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Multi-disciplinary research programs involving organic synthesis, polymer chemistry, dendrimers, organometalic chemistry, asymmetric catalysis, and molecular recognition
Multi-disciplinary research programs involving organic synthesis, asymmetric catalysis, molecular recognition, fluorescent sensors and polymers are conducted in our laboratory. The 1,1?-bi-2-naphthol and its derivatives are chosen as the chiral building blocks to construct novel chiral molecules and macromolecules for diverse applications. We have discovered that the Lewis acid complexes of the optically active binaphthyl molecules and polymers can carry out highly enantioselective organic reactions such as organozinc additions to aldehydes, hetero-Diels-Alder reactions, 1,3-dipolar cycloadditions, reductions of ketones, Michael additions, epoxidations and others. Interesting chiral organic molecules are prepared by using these catalysts and the biological functions of these molecules are explored through collaboration. We have developed a family of enantioselective fluorescent sensors for the recognition of organic molecules such as alpha-hydroxycarboxylic acids, amino acids, amino alcohols and amines. These sensors are potentially useful for rapid assay of the enantiomeric composition of chiral compounds and for high throughput chiral catalyst screening. The application of these sensors in biological analysis will be explored. New chiral conjugated polymers and dendrimers are also prepared for applications in materials, catalysis and sensing. New catalysts are also under development for stereocontrolled polymerization.