Emeritus Professor Peter Maitlis

Department of Chemistry

Emeritus Professor


Full contact details

Emeritus Professor Peter Maitlis
Department of Chemistry
Dainton Building
13 Brook Hill
S3 7HF

BSc Birmingham (1953); PhD London (1956); DSc London (1970); Research Fellowships at London, Cornell and Harvard Universities; Professor, McMaster University, (1962-1972); Professor of Inorganic Chemistry, Sheffield University (1972-2002); Alfred P Sloan Fellow (1968-69); E W R Steacie Prize (Canada, 1970); Tilden Lecturer (RSC, 1980); RSC Award for the Chemistry of the Noble Metals (1981); Sir Edward Frankland Lectureship and Prize (RSC, 1984); Ludwig Mond Lectureship (RSC, 1996/7); President, Dalton Division of the RSC (1985/87); Chairman, SERC Chemistry Committee (1985/88); Royal Society Council (1991-93); David Craig Visiting Professor, Australian National University, Canberra (2000); Gordon Stone Lecturer, Bristol University (March 2001); Paolo Chini Memorial Lecturer, Italian Chemical Society (September 2001). CChem; FRSC; FRS (1984).

Research interests

Synthetic and mechanistic organometallic chemistry, particularly relating to the catalysis of processes important to the chemical industry. One example is the rhodium catalysed carbonylation of methanol to acetic acid and of methyl acetate to acetic anhydride, which we are investigating by a variety of spectroscopic methods, in part in collaboration with BP Chemicals, Hull.

A second topic is the hydrodesulfurization of fuels. Of major current interest is the heterogeneously metal-catalysed hydrogenation of carbon monoxide into organics of substantially higher added value, such as 1-alkenes or alcohols (the Fischer-Tropsch, FT, reaction). We have investigated reactions using sophisticated labelling and NMR spectroscopic techniques and we have now published a detailed account of the mechanism by which 1-alkenes are formed.

We have also synthesised complexes (of rhodium or ruthenium) and investigated their reactions as models for stages in FT reactions. Synthetic and mechanistic organometallic chemistry involving a range of other projects, ranging from C-H activation to C-C coupling reactions, is also being carried out. The synthetic work involves characterisation of metal complexes by NMR, IR, and UV-visible spectroscopies, X-ray, and other techniques. Mechanistic studies are conducted using infrared and NMR spectroscopy, gas chromatography, GC-MS, and 13C labelling.

Professional activities

I am very interested in the changes that have occurred to the University system in England over the last 25 years and have spoken on the problems now facing modern universities at various Symposia around the world. Following on from my work as an assessor for Research Evaluation Exercises in the UK, I have acted as External Assessor in the research assessments of Institutes and University Departments in various countries including: the Netherlands Institute of Catalysis (NIOK, 2000), Portuguese Chemistry Departments for FCT (1999 - 2003), the Weizmann Institute of Science (Israel, 1998), and Italian Organometallic Chemistry Groups (2000-2003).

Selected publications
  • "Investigations by 13C NMR spectroscopy of ethene initiated catalytic CO hydrogenation" M. L. Turner, N. Marsih, R. Quyoum, H. C. Long, and P. M. Maitlis, J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2002, 124, 10456-10472.
  • "Proton induced coupling reactions of dinuclear s-alkynyl-h5-pentamethylcyclopentadienyl-rhodium complexes", A. Castro, P. M. Maitlis, M. L. Turner, B. E. Mann and H. Adams, J. Organomet. Chem., 2002, 663, 145-150.
  • "Structure and reactivity of polymer supported carbonylation catalysts", A. Haynes, P. M. Maitlis, R. Quyoum, C. Pulling, H. Adams, and R. Strange, J. Chem. Soc., Dalton Trans., 2002, 2565-2572.
  • "Oxidatively Induced M-C Bond Cleavage Reactions of Cp*Ir(Me2SO)Me2 and Cp*Rh(Me2SO)Me2 (Cp* = h5-C5Me5)" E. Fooladi, T. Graham, M. L. Turner, B. Dalhus, P. M. Maitlis and M. Tilset, J. Chem. Soc., Dalton Trans., 2002, 975-982.
  • "Reactivity of substituted thiophenes towards tris(triethylphosphine)platinum(0), -palladium(0) and -nickel(0)", M. Hernandez, G. Miralrio, A. Arevalo, S. Bernes, J.J. Garcia, C. Lopez, P. M. Maitlis, and F. del Rio, Organometallics, 2001, 20, 4061-4071.