Douglas Stephan wins RSC Centenary Prize

June 8, 2021 by Dan Haves

Professor Douglas Stephan has been named the winner of the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Centenary Prize, celebrating the most exciting chemical science taking place today.

Stephan is being recognized for his discovery of 'Frustrated Lewis Pairs' and their wide applicability in bond-forming and catalysis, and for excellence in communication.

“I am delighted and honoured to be recognized by the RSC with a Centenary Prize,” says Stephan.  “I wish to express my gratitude to my graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, colleagues and collaborators through the years. Their hard work, assistance and support have dramatically enriched our work and our life.”

“The pandemic has taught us that when people socially distance, they can still interact with each other, but in ways that are not the same as when they can get together. This same principle is true for molecules.”

 Stephan's research has revealed that, by limiting the approach of molecules that normally interact strongly, it is possible to access previously unknown regimes of chemical reactivity. Such combinations of molecules were given the moniker 'frustrated Lewis pairs (FLPs)'.

This concept dislodged the long-held chemical dogma that industrial processes hinge on the chemistry of metals and unveiled metal-free catalyst technologies. This opens the door to the 'greening' of chemical and material production processes and has influenced research groups around the world.

Stephan's research continues to explore the range of systems that behave as FLPs, targeting new ways to reduce energy consumption, remediate greenhouse gases and convert CO2 to desirable chemicals.