My current research interests are-
To develop polyoxometalate and soft oxometalate based novel systems as efficient catalysts for organic reactions.
Polyoxometalates (POMs) are metal-oxygen clusters, generally anions of transition metals (Mo, W, V, Nb, Ta) in variable oxidation states. In general, they act as good catalysts for oxidation and acid catalyzed reactions, but are also found to be quite useful as electrocatalysts, photocatalysts and in reactions like alkene polymerizations, coupling reactions etc. Despite these, some areas of POM-chemistry are still conceptually doubtful and restrict us from developing more efficient catalytic systems. These include (1) the role of ion pairing and electronic structures of ground and excited states of POMs in catalysts’ stability, selectivity, and reactivity; (2) the presence of multiple reactive forms of the POMs and their inter-convertibility under turnover conditions. On the other hand, recently, a class of self-assemblies of POMs having soft-matter properties has been found and proposed to be called softoxometalates (SOMs). Despite being a new field, these metal-oxide based charged soft-superstructures are already showing great possibilities in organocatalysis.
In this direction, my target is to develop various novel polyoxometalate and soft oxometalate based systems (like substituted polyoxometalates or their hybrid systems with other functional molecules) and to apply these systems as catalysts in various important organic reactions in innovative and efficient ways.
To use Soft Oxometalate (SOM) based trails in catalysis and other applications.
Owing to its soft nature, SOMs and other functional molecules loaded on it can be patterned in microscale level. Our group had demonstrated it for the first time in a controlled and continuous optical patterning technique using self-assembly of SOMs followed by nucleation around a bubble generated thermo-optically in an optical tweezers setup. We had also used such trails for site-specific epoxidation of alkenes and oxidation of benzaldehyde to benzoic acid and in micro-scale patterning of conductive materials. Traditional “lab on a chip” systems are usually associated with costly developments, complex monitoring techniques and also depend on the choice of the surface. However, our method is very simple, inexpensive and independent of such choices.
So in this direction, my aim is to use this novel technique to develop micro-reactors for more complex organic synthesis and also to explore its applicability into other dimensions of ongoing "lab-on-a-chip" research trend.