PhD 1987 (Berkeley)
The lanthanides and early transition metals are important as catalysts in industrial alkene and diene polymerizations and as mild Lewis acid catalysts for the hetero Diels-Alder reaction in organic chemistry. Additionally, complexes of these metals perform many rare types of stoichiometric carbon-carbon bond forming reactions not common with other metals. Research in my group seeks to probe the structure and bonding of these metal complexes with a view to developing catalysts with higher activity, greater selectivity and better stability. In particular, our efforts focus on developing alternatives to the cyclopentadienyl (Cp) ligand system commonly used as a supporting ligand with these metals. While the Cp ligand system has been instrumental in the development of early metal chemistry, the nature of the ligand itself limits the extent to which electronic and steric factors governing metal reactivity can be tuned.
Over the past few years, we have developed several new ligand types which present dramatically different steric and electronic environments from those found in the analogous Cp system. The resulting metal complexes do not always show superior reactivity to the Cp analogs, but the systematic development of this chemistry has allowed us to pinpoint which ligand features are important for a particular type of reactivity.
For more information, see our Research group Webpage.
Dr. Berg's teaching interests are in inorganic chemistry, including introductory main group chemistry, introductory and advanced transition metal chemistry and organometallic chemistry. He also teaches a research tools and methods module and participates in graduate discussion courses.
Dr. Berg won the Faculty of Science Teaching Award in 2005.