Ph.D. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, 1999-2005
Research in our group is focused on the development of green or environmental sustainable methods for amine synthesis. Specifically, we are interested in developing new reactions using environmentally friendly metals such as Fe and renewable sources such as air and sunlight.
Two research areas are currently ongoing in the Zheng group. The first area involves the use of 2H-azirines as substrates in Fe-catalyzed transformations. 2H-Azirines are the smallest unsaturated nitrogen-containing heterocycles. Their ring strain, estimated to be about 48 kcal/mol, contributes significantly to their high reactivity. We recently developed a general method for the synthesis of 2,3-disubstituted indoles. The key feature of this method is amination of aromatic C-H bonds via FeCl2-catalyzed ring opening of 2H-azirines.
The second area involves harnessing the synthetic potential of nitrogen radical cations generated by visible light photocatalysis. We recently developed a new method for cleavage of N-N bonds of hydrazines and hydrazides using using [Ru(bpyrz)3]•2H2O, visible light, and air.
Independent Research at the University of Arkansas:
1. Zhu, M.; Zheng, N. Photoinduced Cleavage of N-N Bonds of Aromatic Hydrazines and Hydrazides by Visible Light. Synthesis 2011, 2223-2236.
2. Jana, S.; Clements, M. D.; Sharp, B. K.; Zheng, N. Fe(II)-Catalyzed Amination of Aromatic C-H Bonds via Ring Opening of 2H-Azirines: Synthesis of 2,3-Disubstituted Indoles. Org. Lett. 2010, 12, 3736-3739. This paper was listed as the journal’s the most read article in August of 2010 and highlighted in SYNFACTS 2010, 11, 1232 and Organic Chemistry Portal (Org. Chem. Highlights, June 20, 2011).
Supervised Research at the University of Michigan and MIT:
1. Tsang, W. C. P.; Munday, R.; Gordon, B.; Zheng, N.; Buchwald, S. L. A Palladium-Catalyzed Method for the Synthesis of Carbazoles via Tandem C-H Functionalization and C-N Bond Formation. J. Org. Chem. 2008, 73, 7603-7610.
2. Handa, M.; Scheidt, K.; Bossart, M.; Zheng, N.; Roush, W. R. Studies on the Synthesis of Apoptolidin A. 1. Synthesis of the C(1)-C(11) Fragment. J. Org. Chem. 2008, 73, 1031-1035.
3. Zheng, N.; Buchwald, S. L. A Copper-Catalyzed Regiospecific Synthesis of N-Alkyl Benzimidazoles. Org. Lett. 2007, 9, 4749-4751.
4. Zheng, N.; Anderson, K. W.; Huang, X.; Nguyen, H. N.; Buchwald, S. L. A Palladium-Catalyzed Regiospecific Synthesis of N-Aryl Benzimidazoles. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2007, 46, 7509-7512.