Malcolm Green (chemist)
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Born in Eastleigh, Hampshire, he received his BSc degree from Acton Technical College (London University External Regulations) in 1956 and his PhD from Imperial College of Science and Technology in 1959 under the supervision of Professor Sir Geoffrey Wilkinson. He then undertook a post-doctoral research year with Professor Wilkinson before moving to Cambridge University in 1960 as Assistant Lecturer and being elected a Fellow of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge in 1961.
In 1963 he became a Septcentenary Fellow of Inorganic Chemistry at Balliol College and a Departmental Demonstrator at the University of Oxford. In 1965 he was made a Lecturer and he was also a Royal Society Senior Research Fellow in Oxford 1979-86. In 1989 he was appointed Professor of Inorganic Chemistry and Head of the Inorganic Chemistry Laboratory at Oxford and Fellow of St Catherine’s College. In 2004 he became an Emeritus Research Professor and continues research with a substantial group. He was a co-founder of the Oxford Catalysts Group plc in 2006.
Green has held many distinguished visiting positions including: Visiting Professor, Ecole de Chimie and Institute des Substances Naturelles, Paris (1972), AP Sloan Visiting Professor, Harvard University (1975), Sherman Fairchild Visiting Scholar at the California Institute of Technology (1981) and Walter Hieber Gastprofessor, University of Munich, Germany (1991).
Green made pioneering contributions in the earliest days of development of the organometallic chemistry of the transition metals. He was among the first to demonstrate the intermolecular insertion of transition metals into carbon - hydrogen bonds known as C-H bond activation and, with Rooney, he proposed a mechanism to explain stereochemical control in Ziegler-Natta polymerization that was based on an initial alpha C-H activation step. This was in contrast to the Cossee-Arlman mechanism that involves a beta-insertion step. Although incorrect, the debate over this mechanism stimulated extensive work in the field. He developed Metal Vapour Synthesis (invented originally by Peter Timms) as a technique, isolating a huge range of unusual compounds of extreme electron richness and reactivity. He and his students designed and synthesised striking examples of metal-alkyl compounds containing metal-hydrogen-carbon bonds which he named “agostic” bonds. The word was suggested to him by Jasper Griffin, professor of Classics at Balliol College, Oxford, whom Green asked for an appropriate Greek word to describe the close bonding phenomenon. "Agostos" is an obscure word in Homer which seems to mean "clinging tightly." This would later lead to Green and Brookhart's modified Green-Rooney mechanism for Ziegler-Natta catalysis involving agostic control of the transition state, a suggestion that has found wide acceptance in the literature through the work of John Bercaw, H H Brintzinger, and others. In the late 1980s Green moved into the field of heterogeneous catalysts of hydrocarbon reactions and discovered highly selective metal carbide catalysts for the catalytic Partial Oxidation of Methane. This led to the spin-off company Oxford Catalysts plc. In 1990 Green initiated fundamental studies into the world of carbon nanotubes and other carbon nanomaterials conducting seminal work in the filling of tubes with metals and salts.
Malcolm Green had a very large research group many of whose members became academics across the world including Prof Geoff Cloke FRS, Dermot O'Hare, Ged Parkin, David L Clarke, among the best known.
His numerous awards include: from the Royal Society of Chemistry, the Corday-Morgan Medal and Prize in Inorganic Chemistry (1974), Medal in Transition Metal Chemistry(1978), Tilden Lectureship and Prize (1982), Medal in Organometallic Chemistry (1986), Sir Edward Frankland Prize Lecturership (1989), and the Sir Geoffrey Wilkinson Medal and Prize (2000). From the American Chemical Society, the Annual Awards for Inorganic Chemistry (1984) and Organometallic Chemistry (1997). From the Gesellschaft Deutscher Chemiker, the Karl-Ziegler Prize (1992). He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1985 and received the Davy Medal of the Royal Society in 1995. From EuChemMS, the European Prize for Organometallic Chemistry (2015).
Green along with Stephen Davies and Michael Mingos have compiled a set of rules that summarize where nucleophilic additions will occur on pi ligands.
- "Lists of Royal Society Fellows 1660-2007". London: The Royal Society. Retrieved 11 August 2010.
- "Professor M. L. H. Green". University of Oxford.