Atlantic Centre for Green Chemistry

Singer Group

Research Interests

Green Chemistry, Ionic Liquids as Reaction Media, Organometallic Methodology, Asymmetric Synthesis


Since becoming a faculty member in the department of Chemistry at Saint Mary's University Dr. Singer has employed over 80 undergraduate research assistants including 22 Honours students, 3 Masters students and a Doctoral student. He has attracted over 8 million dollars of funding, both as an individual and as a co-investigator, for his research from a variety of internal and external sources including NSERC, ARC, ACS-PRF, CFI, Pfizer Pharmaceutical, Glaxo-Smith-Kline Australia, and PRAC. His current research interests lie in the field of Green Chemistry with particular emphasis on Ionic Liquids as Neoteric Solvents. This area of interest is complemented by his research in Organometallic Reagents in Organic Synthesis and Synthetic Methodology.

Summary of current interests:

The development of Green Chemistry, or environmentally benign chemistry, is an area of increasing significance in today's society. Green Chemistry is aimed at the reduction or elimination of hazardous substances in the design, manufacture and application of chemical products. These goals can be achieved, in part, by increasing reaction yields, rates, and reaction selectivity. Other key components of any "green" process include the ability to recycle and reuse unused reactants, catalysts and solvents while avoiding release of harmful volatile organic compounds (VOC's).

Room Temperature Ionic Liquids (RTIL's) are a new class of polar, non-coordinating solvents that are typically composed of an organic cation and an inorganic anion and are liquids at or below room temperature. Our group is concerned with the exploitation of the beneficial "green" properties of these inherently non-volatile solvents. As such, our overall program can be divided into four sub-categories:

  1. The design, synthesis, and characterization of new ionic liquids capable of acting as novel reaction media and/or extractants.
  2. Development of RTIL–metal complexes that have potential as easily recycled, immobilized homogeneous catalysts for important organic reactions.
  3. Adaptation of bimetallic addition reactions to RTIL systems. Early studies in our laboratory indicate increased selectivites and product yields using RTIL's in reactions of bimetallic reagents with unsaturated organic substrates. Furthermore, we have shown that catalysts for these reactions can be easily recycled and reused using RTIL's.
  4. Organometallic synthetic methodology development. Our earlier work involving useful zincate reagents, and others, with potential use in asymmetric synthesis will continue. Adaptation of such organometallic reagents to RTIL systems are being conducted.

RTIL's afford novel reaction conditions affording higher yields of single products while being recyclable and reusable. They are excellent candidates for replacements to industrially used solvents and have their highest potential impact in this context.