2010 Arduengo Lecture: Guy Bertrand


Novel Stable Non-Arduengo Carbenes and Related Species
12:30 PM, March 25, 2010, 1093 Shelby Hall
(Technical Talk)

Bending the Rules
3:00 PM, March 26th, 1093 Shelby Hall
(General Interest Talk)


Professor Guy Bertrand was born in Limoges (France) in 1952. He currently holds the title of Distinguished Professor of Chemistry at the University of California at Riverside. Guy graduated from the University of Montpellier in 1975. That same year, he obtained a tenured position at University Paul Sabatier of Toulouse as an Attaché de Recherche CNRS (the CNRS is the French National Center for Scientific Research, a government-funded research organization, under the administrative authority of France’s Ministry of Research). From 1988 to 1998 he served as Director of Research at the Laboratoire de Chimie de Coordination du CNRS, and from 1998 to 2005 as the Director of the Laboratoire d’Hétérochimie Fondamentale et Appliquée at the University Paul Sabatier (Toulouse). Since 2001, he has been the Director of the UCR/CNRS Joint Research Chemistry Laboratory at the University of California at Riverside, the first permanent French science laboratory in the United States.

Guy’s research straddles the border between organic and inorganic chemistry. He cleverly exploits properties of main group elements to stabilize otherwise transient species such as carbenes, nitrenes, radicals, biradicals, and anti-aromatic heterocycles. He has prepared and studied several of the most interesting stable carbenes ever conceived. His acyclic phosphinocarbenes, first reported in 1988, helped inspire the search for other classes of stable carbenes that have revolutionized synthetic and polymer chemistry. Guy reported the preparation of singlet cyclopropenylidenes, compounds once believed restricted to the vacuum of space. In 2007, he described the insertion of his singlet (alkyl)(amino)carbenes into the N-H bond of ammonia, a process elusive to other catalysts. Guy also devised the first metal-free crystalline “abnormal” N-heterocyclic carbenes that are stable at ambient temperature. The strong s-donating ability of these carbenes is tunable through minor structural modifications, and the systems promise to serve as valued ligands in the development of next generation transition metal catalysts for a variety of uses including stereoselective reactions. Aside from creating novel carbenes and revealing important applications of these compounds in catalysis, Guy explores unconventional and new types of bonding such as s* aromaticity and anti-aromaticity. He reported the first compounds to feature one electron phosphorus-phosphorus bonds that result from p*-p* interactions. These tetraphosphabenzene valence isomers offer unique properties and have been employed by Bertrand as Lewis acids in ring-opening polymerizations. He also prepared and investigated a diboradiphosphacyclobutane diradical, which is indefinitely stable at ambient temperature. These achievements are but a sampling of Bertrand’s landmark scientific contributions.

Professor Bertrand is a member of the French Academy of Technology (2000), the Academia Europaea (2002), the European Academy of Sciences (2003), the French Academy of Sciences (2004), and is a Fellow of the American Association for Advancement of Sciences (2006). He has received the International Council on Main Group Chemistry Award (1993), the Humboldt Award (1994), the médaille d’argent of the CNRS (1998), a JSPS Fellowship (1999), and the Sir Ronald Nyholm Medal of the RSC (2009). Guy has also been honored with the Taiwan National Science Foundation Distinguished Lectureship (2003), the East Cost Lectureship of Scotland(2007), and the Novartis Lectureship at the Scripps Research Institute (2009-2010). He is an Editor of the Journal of Organometallic Chemistry, and a member of the Editorial Board of Chemical Reviews, Heteroatom Chemistry, European Journal of Inorganic Chemistry, Chemistry an Asian Journal, and Chemistry Letters. He is also a Member of the Editorial Advisory Panel for Nature Communications. Guy has over 300 peer-reviewed publications including 10 publications in Science during the last decade alone. Professor Bertrand’s discoveries are transforming scientists’ perceptions of molecular valency and stability, and in so doing, he is establishing new paradigms in multiple fields of chemistry.