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Alan H Cowley

Professor Emeritus
Department of Chemistry

The Robert A. Welch Chair in Chemistry


Postal Address
105 E 24TH ST
, TX 78712

M.S. (1956)
B.S. (1955)
Ph.D., University of Manchester, UK (1958)

Synthetic, structural, theoretical, and materials science aspects of main-group and organometallic chemistry

Part of our research program is concerned with the synthetic chemistry, structural assays, bonding descriptions, and reactivity studies of unusual compounds of the main group elements. Particular emphasis is placed on the elements from groups 13 and 15 of the periodic table and on compounds in which these elements are in low oxidation states and/or possess low coordination numbers. Often, the key to success in this work is the design or selection of ligands that are capable of conferring the appropriate kinetic or thermodynamic stabilization. Examples include sterically demanding aryl and alkyl ligands, like substituted cyclopentadienyls, that can engage in conjugative stabilization. The use of ligands such as these permitted the isolation of novel compounds such as:

Compound 1 represents the first example of a terminal boranediyl (borolene) complex while the phosphenium and arsenium cations, 2, are closely related to the corresponding stable carbene, silylene, and germylene compounds. Complexes of type 3 (collaborative work with Professor Richard A. Jones) are formed as a consequence of a p-type interaction between an arene p-orbital and the powerful Lewis acid, Al(C6F5)3. We are also interested in the incorporation of main group functionalities into hydrocarbyl rings. For example, the first gallacyclopentadiene was prepared by the reaction of 2,4,6-(t-Bu)3C6H2GaCl2 with the appropriate zirconacycle. A second major component of our research program concerns the design, synthesis, structure determination and thin film deposition studies of single-source precursors to important electronic materials. Current efforts are focused on the development of new precursors for the deposition of group 13 nitrides, transition metal nitrides, transition metal carbides, and noble metals. We are also interested in the design and development of new catalysts.

Representative Publications

Lu, Zheng; Findlater, Michael; Cowley, Alan H. "A ?-diketiminato hydroxyphosphenium cation: phosphinous acid-secondary phosphine oxide tautomerism revisited" Chem. Comm. 34 (2008): 184-186.

Reeske, Gregor; Hoberg, Clint R.; Cowley, Alan H. "One-Step redox route to N-heterocyclic phosphenium ions" Inorganic Chemistry 46 (2007): 4358.

Vasudevan, Kalyan; Cowley, Alan H. "Synthesis and structures of 1,2-bis(imino)acenaphthene (BIAN) lanthanide complexes that involve the transfer of zero, one, or two electrons" Chem. Comm. 33 (2007): 3464-3466.

Vidovic, Dragoslav; Findlater, Michael; Cowley, Alan H. "A beta-diketiminate-supported boron dication" J. Am. Chem. Soc. 129 (2007): 11296.

Reeske, Gregor; Hoberg, Clint R.; Hill, Nicholas J.; Cowley, Alan H. "Capture of phosphorus(I) and arsenic(I) moieties by a 1,2-bis(arylimino)acenaphthene (Aryl-BIAN) ligand. A case of intramolecular charge transfer" J. Am. Chem. Soc. 128 (2006): 2800-2801.

Jones, J. N.; Cowley, A. H. "pi-Indenyl Tin(II) and Lead(II) Compounds" Chem. Comm. . (2005): 1300-1302.

Shukla, P.; Cowley, A. H.; Jones, J. N.; Gordon, J. C.; Scott, B. L. "Fluoroaryl-Substituted Aminoalane Dimers: Syntheses and Structures" Dalton Trans. . (2005): 1019-1022.

Vidovic, D.; Moore, J. A.; Jones, J. N.; Cowley, A. H. "Synthesis and Characterization of a Coordinated Oxoborane. Lewis Acid Stabilization of a Boron-Oxygen Double Bond" J. Am. Chem. Soc. 127 (2005): 4566-4567.

Hill, N. J.; Findlater, M.; Cowley, A. H. "Synthetic and Structural Chemistry of Amidinate-Substituted boron Halides" Dalton Trans. . (2005): 3229-3234.

Hill, N. J.; Moore, J. A.; Findlater, M; Cowley, A. H. "Isolation of an Intermediate in the Insertion of a Carbodiimide into a Boron-Aryl Bond" Chem. Commun. . (2005): 5462-5464.

  • Fellow of the Royal Society, 1999