The Hultzsch group is interested in the development and application of catalysts for atom-economical and efficient reactions that allow rapid access to biologically active target molecules starting from simple and inexpensive precursors. One of such reactions, the so-called hydroamination, involves the addition of amine N-H functionalities to unsaturated carbon-carbon bonds, generating pharmacologically important nitrogen-containing molecules in a most efficient and waste-free manner. Intramolecular hydroamination reactions allow easy access to nitrogen containing heterocycles, as well as polycyclic organonitrogen frameworks, such as pyrrolizidines, indolizidines or quinolizidines, and other valuable organoheteroatom skeletons. Many of the desired target molecules are chiral and the development of enantioselective processes for the production of pharmaceuticals has been an important, yet challenging task. Therefore, special emphasis of the research activities in the Hultzsch group resides on the development of chiral catalysts for asymmetric hydroamination reactions, in particular based on alkali metals, alkaline earth metals, rare earth metals and group 4 metals.
A second area of interest is the development of new polymerization catalysts. E.g. catalysts for the activation of CO2 for the copolymerization with epoxides is an attractive goal in contemporary polymerization catalysis, because CO2 is readily available, cheap, and nontoxic. The resulting polycarbonates are biodegradable polymers, which can potentially replace petrochemical based polymers, e.g. polyethylene or polypropylene.