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Christopher T. Burns

Assistant Professor

Christopher T. Burns
Division: Organic Chemistry/Inorganic Chemistry
Specialty: Organometallic Chemistry and Catalysis
Phone: 502-852-5977
Website: Burns Research Group

Education and Research Experience

1996 B.S.    University of Idaho
2003 M.S.   University of Idaho
2005 Ph.D. University of Chicago
2005-2008  Postdoctoral Research Appointee in the Materials Science Division of Argonne National Laboratory

Research Interests

Transition metal mediated catalysis plays an important role in today’s world, and is involved in the production of pharmaceuticals, fine/commodity chemicals, and high performance polymers/co-polymers. A greater understanding of the reactivity of transition metal active species is vital to the development of new catalysts and new transformations. Research in the Burns group focuses on synthetic and mechanistic organometallic chemistry involving the design of novel organic based ligands and transition metal complexes for catalytic C-X (X = H, C, B, Si) bond formation. The Burns group employs ligand-oriented catalyst design, utilizing traditional organic synthesis, to target reactive single-site homogeneous transition metal catalysts. The challenges presented by this area of research are appealing because they offer chemists a chance to apply and develop new synthetic methodologies. Merging homogeneous catalysis and heterogeneous catalysis is another area of focus in the Burns group. A key ligand design element for many homogenous transition metal catalysts is for the ancillary ligand to possess steric bulk. This feature can greatly increase the difficultly of ligand synthesis. Utilization of the three-dimensional structure of periodic mesoporous silicas to the replace ligand steric bulk affords a new method of transition metal catalyst synthesis. New molecules and reactions discovered during the course of our research may challenge current ideas on structure, bonding, and reactivity. A wide range of synthetic and spectroscopic methods for the manipulation and characterization of reactive materials, including air- and moisture-sensitive manipulations using gloveboxes and Schlenk lines, multinuclear NMR spectroscopy, IR spectroscopy, mass spectrometry, electrochemistry, molecular modeling and X-ray crystallography are employed. The research conducted in our labs is directed toward understanding the roles of transition metals in catalysis and developing new stoichiometric and catalytic transformations for converting readily available molecules such as olefins and alkanes into more valuable products.


American Chemical Society Petroleum Research Fund - Doctoral New Investigator Program (50401-DNI3) - 2010
University of Louisville College of Arts and Sciences - Victor A. Olorunsola Endowed Research Award - 2010
University of Louisville Office of the Senior Vice President for Research - Intramural Research Incentive Grant (IRIG) - 2009
University of Louisville Startup Funds - 2008

Publications (recent or significant)

Synthesis of Air-Stable Zwitterionic 2-Phosphiniminium-arenesulfonates
Christopher T. Burns, Suisheng Shang, Rajesh Thapa, Mark S. Mashuta
Tetrahedron Lett. 2012, 53, 4832-4835

Electropolymerization of a Bifunctional Ionic Liquid Monomer Yields and Electroactive Liquid Crystalline Polymer
Sungwon Lee, Gregory A. Becht, Byeongdu Lee, Christopher T. Burns, and Millicent A. Firestone
Adv. Funct. Mater. 2010, 20, 2063-2070

Thiophene-based Ionic Liquids: Synthesis, Physical Properties, Self-assembly and Oxidative Polymerization
Christopher T. Burns, Sung-won Lee, Sönke Seifert, and Millicent A. Firestone
Polym. Adv. Technol. 2008, 19, 1369-1382

Synthetic Utility of Epoxides for Chiral Functionalization of Isoxazoles
Jared K. Nelson, Christopher T. Burns, Miles P. Smith, Brendan Twamley, and Nicholas R. Natale
Tetrahedron Lett. 2008, 49, 3078-3082

Acidichromic Spiropyran-Functionalized Mesoporous Silica: Towards Stimuli-Responsive Metal Ion Separations Media
Christopher T. Burns, Sung-yuen Choi, Mark Dietz, and Millicent A. Firestone
Sep. Sci. Technol. 2008, 43, 2508-2519

Mechanism of Ethylene Oligomerization by a Cationic Palladium(II) Alkyl Complex that Contains a (3,5-Me2-pyrazolyl)2CHSi(p-tolyl)3) Ligand
Mathew P. Conley, Christopher T. Burns, and Richard F. Jordan
Organometallics 2007, 26, 6750-6759

Ethylene Polymerization by Sterically Crowded Palladium(II) Complexes that Contain Bis(heterocycle)methane Ligands
Christopher T. Burns, and Richard F. Jordan
Organometallics 2007, 26, 6737-6749

Ethylene Dimerization by Cationic Palladium(II) Alkyl Complexes that Contain Bis(heterocycle)methane Ligands
Christopher T. Burns, and Richard F. Jordan
Organometallics 2007, 26, 6726-6736

Acrylonitrile Insertion Reactions of Cationic Palladium Alkyl Complexes
Fan Wu, Steven R. Foley, Christopher T. Burns, and Richard F. Jordan
 J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2005, 127, 1841-1853

Photochemical Synthesis of a Palladium Dichloromethyl complex, {(hexyl)HC(N-methyl-imidazol-2-yl)2}Pd(CHCl2)Cl.  X-Ray Molecular Structures of {(hexyl)HC(N-methylimidazolyl-2-yl)2}Pd(X)Cl, X = Cl, and CHCl2
Christopher T. Burns, Han Shen, and Richard F. Jordan
J. Organomet. Chem. 2003, 683, 240-248

Bis(permethylcyclopentadienyl)aluminum compounds: Precursors to [Cp*Al-2](+) but not to Cp*Al-3
Christopher T. Burns, Pamela J. Shapiro, Peter H. M. Budzelaar, Roger Willett, and Ashwani Vij
Organometallics 2000, 19, 3361-3367

Stable borate-bridged ansa-zirconocene complexes. Preparation and X-ray crystallographic characterization of [Cp*Al-2](+)[Me(Ph)B(eta(5)-C5H4)(2)ZrCl2](-) and [PPN](+)[Cl(Ph)B(eta(5)-C5H4)(2)ZrCl2](-)
Christopher T. Burns, Daniel S. Stack, Pamela J. Shapiro, Ashwani Vij, Klaus Kunz, Gerald Kehr, Tom Concolino, and Arnold L. Rheingold
Organometallics 1999, 18, 5432-5434

The direct synthesis of 2-oxazolines from carboxylic esters using lanthanide chloride as catalyst
Peiwen Zhou, Jason E. Blubaum, Christopher T. Burns, Nicholas R. Natale
Tetrahedron Lett. 1997, 38, 7019-7020

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