We focus on ‘cutting-edge’ fundamental main-group chemistry, although we have a huge amount of freedom and in reality can investigate anything that interests us! Presently we are developing synergistic main group-transition metal (MG-TM) systems, which are simple to access and show unique reactivity across the MG-TM bond, which we are taking towards catalysis, for example in alkene hydroamination. Due to our unique systems, this catalysis would operate via essentially new mechanistic pathways. We are also developing low-valent group 14 catalysts, and are beginning to move into group 2 chemistry for carbon monoxide functionalization. So, there are many options!
How is the schedule and content of a research internship designed at your working group?
First I like to meet the students and ask what they are interested in. Usually there’s something we can do that fits specific interests, be it catalysis, or more main group or transition metal orientated (as long as it’s not organic chemistry……). From there, we can see what exciting chemistry is going on at that time, and build a manageable 4 week project from there. The goal is for every student to get their first X-ray crystal structure during those 4 weeks, and we haven’t failed yet!
Which methods are used for the respective topics?
Schlenk techniques lie at the core of our work, which you can be sure to further develop whilst working in the group. We start small but aim to work with multi-gram-scale syntheses once things are optimized. In conjunction with the glovebox, doing air-free chemistry has never been so accessible. Our ligands are designed to be simple to make, and to fully utilize multi nuclear NMR spectroscopy. This makes monitoring reaction mixtures fast and straightforward. And of course if we have a new compound we try to grow crystals for the structural data!
Is a progress/final talk about the research internship planned?
Generally I’m around the lab regularly, and so keep up with what chemistry is/isn’t working there. Final talks aren’t usually planned, but are of course welcome if the student wishes to give one!
With which working groups are overlapping topics possible?
Potential cross-over projects are available with Prof. Inoue and Prof. Fässler, and when we have some more ‘serious’ catalytic systems this will expand to groups with high-throughput testing facilities.
How and in what way can one apply for a research internship at your working group?
I’m very happy for prospective students to e-mail me (or, outside of Corona times, to come and knock on my door, which is always open). From there we organize a time to meet and discuss topics, and have a quick ‘tour’ of the lab and facilities.
What kind of previous knowledge is required for a research internship at your working group?
Ideally you have some experience with Schlenk techniques, but beyond this there are no requirements. Some knowledge of how great modern main group chemistry can be is always a plus, though.
Can a research intership be expanded to a master’s thesis?
Absolutely, as long as we have space, extending to a Master’s Thesis is a perfect situation. This can either involve continuation of the internship topic, or switching to new project if you want to try something else!
How much cake does your chair expect?
There are two things in this world that are certain: the passage of time, and the importance of cake. We don’t expect cake, but we understand that it makes the passage of time that much better.
Is it an advantage of small working groups, that there is more cake for everyone?
We can’t promise that the Fässler group won’t eat your cake, but that also means we get to eat theirs, and more cake is good cake!