Monthly Archives: February 2017

Florence Williams: Unusual observations in nitrene chemistry

February 21 at 7:00 pm we will be hosting Professor Florence Williams of the University of Alberta Department of Chemistry for a talk on her nitrene chemistry research. All are welcome to attend the talk. If you’re curious to learn more about Prof. Florence Williams, check out her website:

Location: E3-25 Gunning/Lemieux Chemistry Centre, University of Alberta

Date: Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Time: 6:30 pm (refreshments provided)

Title: “Unusual Observations in Nitrene Chemistry”


Nitrenes are high-energy intermediates that enable challenging transformations such as C-H insertion, de-aromatization and rearrangement processes. Yet, nitrenes often exhibit poor chemoselectivity profiles. As a result, nitrene or nitrenoid-mediated processes typically employ stabilizing groups, such as carbonyl and sulfonyl substituents, or transition metals, in order to promote one desired reaction pathway. In the Williams lab, we are exploring boron and phosphorus(III) as stabilizing agents which can electronically alter the behavior of nitrenes. Our studies have resulted in an unusual synthesis of anilines arising from borylnitrene C-H insertion reactions. Experiments show complete selectively for aryl C-H bonds, with no reaction at the expected benzylic position. Further, the identity of the boron ligands is intrinsically connected to a chemoselectivity switch in the reaction.