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William B. Motherwell

Chemistry University College London, London, United Kingdom 
"William B. Motherwell"

A Holder of a Carnegie Fellowship, Willie obtained his PhD at the University of Glasgow under Sir Ralph Raphael, before moving to the University of Stirling as an independent ICI Research Fellow. In 1975, he joined the group of Sir Derek Barton at Imperial College as a Schering-Plough Fellow. Two years later, he moved with Sir Derek to France and was appointed to the C.N.R.S, first as “Attaché de Recherches” then as “Chargé de Recherches”. In 1983, he returned to Imperial College as a Lecturer and was promoted to a Readership in 1991. In 1993 he moved to University College London as the first Alexander Williamson Professor of Chemistry, a Chair he occupied until his retirement in September 2012. He has remained an Emeritus Professor at University College.

Early in his career, Willie developed the chemistry of metallocarbenoids and demonstrated the possibility of generating alkenes and cyclopropanes from ketones and aldehydes, using, among others, a combination of metallic zinc and chlorotrimethylsilane. Remarkably, he is the sole author on the first paper describing this original chemistry. He also devised various ionic and organometallic cascade reactions involving sulfones, and cyclopropylidenes, as well as ingenious radical sequences leading for example to the stereoselective formation of spiro compounds and to hindered biaryls. He further described a spectacular photochemical oxidation of arenes with osmium tetroxide, which allows the synthesis of cyclitols from benzene derivatives in essentially one step. He has found methods allowing the synthesis of fluorinated derivatives of carbohydrates and steroids and studied various processes involving unusual hydride transfer steps. He made seminal contributions to the synthesis of natural products, the chemistry of thionitrites, molecular recognition, molecular imprints and artificial enzymes.
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Aliev AE, Arendorf JR, Pavlakos I, et al. (2015) Surfing π clouds for noncovalent interactions: arenes versus alkenes. Angewandte Chemie (International Ed. in English). 54: 551-5
Ujjainwalla F, Da Mata MLEN, Pennell AMK, et al. (2015) Synthesis of biaryls via intramolecular free radical ipso-substitution reactions Tetrahedron. 71: 6701-6719
Desrat S, Gray PJ, Penny MR, et al. (2014) Taming the carboxyl group for directed carbometalation: observations on the use of anions, dianions and ester enolates. Chemistry (Weinheim An Der Bergstrasse, Germany). 20: 8918-22
Ishikawa S, Sheppard TD, D'Oyley JM, et al. (2013) A rapid route to aminocyclopropanes via carbamatoorganozinc carbenoids. Angewandte Chemie (International Ed. in English). 52: 10060-3
Roydhouse MD, Motherwell WB, Constantinou A, et al. (2013) Ozonolysis of some complex organic substrates in flow Rsc Advances. 3: 5076-5082
McCombie SW, Motherwell WB, Tozer MJ. (2012) The Barton-McCombie reaction Organic Reactions. 77: 161-592
Bou-Moreno R, Luengo-Arratta S, Motherwell WB. (2011) Observations on the reaction of nitronate anions with oxalyl chloride: A new method for the preparation of geminal chloronitroso compounds Tetrahedron Letters. 52: 2097-2099
Chapman HA, Herbal K, Motherwell WB. (2010) Studies towards the taming of the 'carbocation' in the regioselective ring opening of epoxides to allylic alcohols Synlett. 595-598
Waller RW, Diorazio LJ, Taylor BA, et al. (2010) Isocyanide based multicomponent reactions of oxazolidines and related systems Tetrahedron. 66: 6496-6507
Greaney MF, Motherwell WB. (2010) ChemInform Abstract: Oxidation and Fluorination of α-Phenylsulfanylacetamides Using Difluoroiodotoluene. Cheminform. 31: no-no
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