2/06/2007

The Man.

Over at one of my favorite stomping grounds, ChemBark, Paul details his idea of marketing goods with famous chemists' endorsements- for example, colored chalk with Andy Myers' seal of approval on it, or, better yet, personally autographed and numbered vials of catalysts from Bob Grubbs. This reminded me that someone in our group had that idea a while back, though sadly, not much came out of it, except for some of my favorite vintage chemicals in our lab.

Now, Bob Grubbs is The Man. We all know he won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2005 for his work on olefin metathesis. And granted, Grubbs' work on metathesis was revolutionary not only to organic chemistry, but also to the synthesis of new materials. I don't need to elaborate that his work has had a tremendous impact on several branches of science.

So it's not unusual for people who have a Grubbs legacy to be rather fond of The Man. My current boss worked for Grubbs, as did my undergrad advisor. There is definitely a sense of high respect for him in both groups, particularly because in my current group we do a lot of metathesis. A LOT of metathesis. We make Grubbs Catalyst Gen. 1 by the ton (and by ton, I mean I don't know how much, but it's a lot, certainly). For those not in the know, due to licensing restrictions, you can't buy Grubbs catalysts in bulk from Aldrich-if you want a ton of it you have to make it yourself or pay a lot of money. Anything ruthenium is pretty expensive (the starting ruthenium material for Grubbs, (Ph3P)3RuCl2 costs about $43/g from Aldrich), so it's definitely a pricey process to run this stuff even in tens of grams. Nevertheless, we have a lot of metathesis catalysts lying around.

With all this metathesis magic in our lab, someone in our group decided to pay homage to Grubbs by putting his headshot on a few vials filled with some early ruthenium alkylidene metathesis catalysts, as a reminder to all that who use it who came first:


Truly a classy way to celebrate one of today's most distinguished chemists.

16 comments:

Ψ*Ψ said...

Sigh. I love that reaction on paper. Never had the chance to run one, though.

Paul said...

You can see the fire for chemistry burning in his eyes.

Someone should start putting floating heads into synthetic schemes when there is a named reaction. They could go right below the arrow.

een of andere vent said...

I always do that when I can find a picture. The faces of Hermann Staudinger, James Crafts and Charles Friedel came by in a presentation I did last week.

It seems like people even pay attention since I put such nonsense in it.

Felix said...

I used to think it was weird that my professor always talked about Grubbs. But over the last year I found out what's so special about him.

By the way: do you recover the ruthenium or is that not possible?

Matt Jenks said...

I like Paul's idea a lot. I might start doing that for group meetings here.

I won't go into my fawning love of Grubbs and his magical little catalysts here, but suffice it to say, I'm a little jealous that I never thought to pop a picture of him on the vials of catalyst we had laying around. Also, I'm very glad that I didn't have to synthesize any of it on my own.

Matt Jenks said...

Felix: Usually the catalyst gets quenched by oxidation, but with later catalysts tweaked by Hoyveyda, it's possible to recover the metal and I believe the catalyst as a whole. I never had the good fortune to use Hoyveyda's catalyst, so I've only ever read about how you can recover it.

milkshake said...

I am in process of developing a quite useful catalyst that will bear my name (The synthetic comunity will have to learn prenounciation of long east-european names).

The catalyst is stil in version 0.0 and I am not quite sure about its structure and the actual metal and the reaction for which it will be ultimately used but meanwhile I will suply you with my name and my most flattering mugshot taken 12 years ago, so that you have something to affix on the bottle and can be ready for the moment when the catalyst finally arrives and proves to be an instant classic.

Excimer said...

I will only pay it any attention if it is called the Milkshake Catalyst. And my vials of it will have a picture of Master Shake on it from Aqua Teen Hunger Force. Hopefully such labeling will not confuse these vials with anthrax... but they might in Boston.

Matt Jenks said...

I was going to make a Master Shake comment, too, but alas I was too slow.

I do welcome the day I can present in group meeting that I "successfully pulled off this complicated Milkshake reaction".

Chemgeek said...

...The synthesis began with a Diels-Alder cycloaddition of readily available starting materials to give 1. After reaction of 1 under Milkshake reaction conditions, paclitaxel was isolated in 99.2% yield and 99.98% e.e..

Anonymous said...

Did anyonye ever notice that Bob Grubbs' NEVER smiles for photographs?

I imagine his student(s) presenting the best catalyst EVER for olefin metathesis with >90% yields and really low (less than 0,001 mol%, so few you can't even weight it) catalyst loadings, and saying that reactions are complete in a few minutes at 0ºC, and the guy slightly nodding in approval with that face... LOL what a stimulus!

Matt Jenks said...

He might follow that up with a "what's the E/Z ratio? Why isn't it better?" And then he flips out and head butts his dog.

Excimer said...

anonymous,

I give you exhibit A. Quite possibly the greatest picture ever taken of a Nobel laureate.

Ψ*Ψ said...

See, THAT'S the picture you should have put on the bottle...

Barney said...

I'm glad you found that photo. There's an amusing tale to go with it, but that will have to wait for another time. (The "serious photos" are attempts at pulling off the "baptist preacher" look.)

Lakshmi said...

I bow to the guy ! I have worked with metathesis, and when you can get a reasonably pure (by NMR) product, it is simple bliss. And on paper, the reaction is poetry !