Peter Maitlis

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Peter Michael Maitlis FRS (born 15 January 1933[1]) is a retired British organometallic chemist.[2]


He was educated at Hendon School (then Hendon County School) in north London 1944-50. Maitlis was awarded a Bachelor's degree in Science from the University of Birmingham, and a PhD (1956, studying under Professor Michael J. S. Dewar,[3] who helped to develop the Dewar-Chatt-Duncanson model for bonding in organometallic compounds) and a DSc (1970) from the University of London.[2]


After completing his doctorate, Maitlis worked as an Assistant Lecturer at the University of London.[2] He undertook postdoctoral study at Cornell University as a Fulbright Fellow (1960–1961) and then as a research fellow at Harvard University (1961–1962)[1] under F. G. A. Stone.[4]

While working and teaching at McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada (1962–1972), he rose from Assistant Professor to a full Professorship. Returning to the United Kingdom in 1972, Maitlis was a professor of chemistry at the University of Sheffield for 30 years until his appointment as an emeritus professor in 2002.[1]

In 1971, he published two volumes on the organic chemistry of palladium[5][6] which were "widely recognised as the most authoritative account of the organo-complexes of this metal".[7]

Maitlis was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1984.[8] The citation highlights his work on the platinum group metals palladium, rhodium and iridium.[7]

Achievements in organometallic chemistry[edit]

The hexafluorophosphate ion is generally considered inert and hence a suitable counterion in organometallic synthesis. However, Maitlis' work has demonstrated a solvolysis reaction of the hexafluorophosphate ion. The tris(solvent) rhodium complex [(η5-C5Me5)Rh(Me2CO)3](PF6)2 undergoes solvolysis when heated in acetone, forming a difluorophosphate-bridged complex [(η5-C5Me5)Rh(μ-OPF2O)3Rh(η5-C5Me5)]PF6.[9][10]

Heating [(η5-C5Me5)Rh(Me2CO)3](PF6)2 in acetone results in the formation of the complex [(η5-C5Me5)Rh(μ-OPF2O)3Rh(η5-C5Me5)]PF6

Hexamethyl Dewar benzene (C6Me6) undergoes an unusual rearrangement reaction with hydrohalic acids to form a pentamethylcyclopentadiene derivative,[11][12] and consequently can be used as a starting material for synthesising some pentamethylcyclopentadienyl organometallic compounds.[13][14]

Synthesis of the rhodium(III) dimer [(η5-C5Me5)RhCl2]2 from hexamethyl Dewar benzene

Maitlis and colleagues demonstrated this synthesis and its applicability to the iridium analogue, [(η5-C5Me5)IrCl2]2.[15] His group also demonstrated a more convenient synthesis for the bright orange air stable diamagnetic iridium reagent using pentamethylcyclopentadiene.[16]

Isocyanides can serves as ligands in coordination chemistry as a result of the lone electron pair on carbon, and are especially useful with metals in the 0, +1, and +2 oxidation states. In particular, Maitlis has demonstrated that tert-butyl isocyanide can stabilise metals in unusual oxidation states, such as palladium(I) in the complex [(t-BuNC)2Pd(μ-Cl)]2.[17]


Metallomesogens are "metal complexes of organic ligands which exhibit liquid crystalline (mesomorphic) character [and thus they] combine the variety and range of metal-based coordination chemistry with the extraordinary physical properties exhibited by liquid crystals."[3] They have been a research interest of Maitlis' group since the mid-1980s, and in fact Maitlis jointly directed the early investigations of these systems in the UK and actually coined the term metallomesogen.[18]

Personal life[edit]

Maitlis is the father of the journalist and newsreader Emily Maitlis.[19]

Most cited publications[edit]

The following list shows all journal articles by Maitlis which have been cited more than 200 times according to Web of Science data. The number of citations indicated is current as at 4 February 2011:

  • Kang, J. W.; Moseley, K.; Maitlis, P. M. (1969). "Pentamethylcyclopentadienylrhodium and -iridium Halides. I. Synthesis and Properties". J. Am. Chem. Soc. 91 (22): 5970–5977. doi:10.1021/ja01050a008.  --- 514 citations
  • Giroud-Godquin, A.-M.; Maitlis, P. M. (1991). "Metallomesogens – Metal-Complexes in Organized Fluid Phases". Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 30 (4): 375–402. doi:10.1002/anie.199103751.  --- 476 citations
  • Hudson, S. A.; Maitlis, P. M. (1993). "Calamitic Metallomesogens: Metal-Containing Liquid-Crystals with Rodlike Shapes". Chem. Rev. 93 (3): 861–885. doi:10.1021/cr00019a002.  --- 383 citations
  • Maitlis, P. M. (1978). "(Pentamethylcyclopentadienyl)rhodium and -iridium Complexes – Approaches to New Types of Homogeneous Catalysts". Acc. Chem. Res. 11 (8): 301–307. doi:10.1021/ar50128a003.  --- 232 citations
  • Greaves, E. O.; Lock, C. J. L.; Maitlis, P. M. (1968). "Metal-Acetylene Complexes II. Acetylene Complexes of Nickel, Palladium and Platinum". Can. J. Chem. 46 (24): 3879–3891. doi:10.1139/v68-641.  --- 223 citations
  • Maitlis, P. M. (1976). "The Palladium(II)-Induced Oligomerization of Acetylenes: An Organometallic Detective Story". Acc. Chem. Res. 9 (3): 93–99. doi:10.1021/ar50099a003.  --- 210 citations
  • White, C.; Thompson, S. J.; Maitlis, P. M. (1977). "Pentamethylcyclopentadienyl-Rhodium and -Iridium Complexes XII. Tris(solvent) Complexes and Complexes of η6-Benzene, -Naphthalene, -Phenanthrene, -Indene, -Indole, -Fluorene and η5-Indenyl and -Indolyl". J. Chem. Soc., Dalton Trans. (17): 1654–1661. doi:10.1039/DT9770001654.  --- 206 citations


  1. ^ a b c "Prof Peter Maitlis, FRS Authorised Biography". Debrett's People of Today. Retrieved 2011-02-03. 
  2. ^ a b c "Emeritus Prof Peter Maitlis FRS". Department of Chemistry, University of Sheffield. Retrieved 2011-02-03. 
  3. ^ a b Giroud-Godquin, A.-M.; Maitlis, P. M. (1991). "Metallomesogens – Metal-Complexes in Organized Fluid Phases". Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 30 (4): 375–402. doi:10.1002/anie.199103751. 
  4. ^ Stone, F. G. A. (1993). Leaving No Stone Unturned: Pathways in Organometallic Chemistry. Washington, D.C.: American Chemical Society. p. 199. ISBN 978-0-8412-1826-0. 
  5. ^ Maitlis, P. M. (1971). The Organic Chemistry of Palladium, Volume 1. New York: Academic Press. ISBN 978-0-12-465802-8. 
  6. ^ Maitlis, P. M. (1971). The Organic Chemistry of Palladium, Volume 2: Catalytic Reactions. New York: Academic Press. ISBN 978-0-12-465802-8. 
  7. ^ a b "Certificates of Election and Candidature: Maitlis, Peter Michael". Royal Society. 1978. Retrieved February 3, 2011. 
  8. ^ "List of Fellows of the Royal Society, 1660 – 2007". Royal Society. p. 233. Retrieved February 4, 2011. Date of Election: 15/03/1984 
  9. ^ Thompson, S. J.; Bailey, P. M.; White, C.; Maitlis, P. M. (1976). "Solvolysis of the Hexafluorophosphate Ion and the Structure of [Tris(μ-difluorophosphato)bis(penta-methylcyclopentadienylrhodium)] Hexafluorophosphate". Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 15 (8): 490–491. doi:10.1002/anie.197604901. 
  10. ^ White, C.; Thompson, S. J.; Maitlis, P. M. (1977). "Pentamethylcyclopentadienyl-rhodium and -iridium Complexes XIV. The Solvolysis of Coordinated Acetone Solvent Species to Tris(μ-difluorophosphato)bis[η5-pentamethylcyclopentadienylrhodium(III)] Hexafluorophosphate, to the η5-(2,4-dimethyl-1-oxapenta-1,3-dienyl)(pentamethylcyclopentadienyl)iridium Cation, or to the η5-(2-hydroxy-4-methylpentadienyl)(η5-pentamethylcyclopentadienyl)iridium Cation". J. Organomet. Chem. 134 (3): 319–325. doi:10.1016/S0022-328X(00)93278-9. 
  11. ^ Paquette, L. A.; Krow, G. R. (1968). "Electrophilic Additions to Hexamethyldewarbenzene". Tetrahedron Lett. 9 (17): 2139–2142. doi:10.1016/S0040-4039(00)89761-0. 
  12. ^ Criegee, R.; Gruner, H. (1968). "Acid-catalyzed Rearrangements of Hexamethyl-prismane and Hexamethyl-Dewar-benzene". Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 7 (6): 467–468. doi:10.1002/anie.196804672. 
  13. ^ Kang, J. W.; Moseley, K.; Maitlis, P. M. (1968). "Mechanisms of Reactions of Dewar Hexamethylbenzene with Rhodium and Iridium Chlorides". Chem. Commun. (21): 1304–1305. doi:10.1039/C19680001304. 
  14. ^ Kang, J. W.; Maitlis, P. M. (1968). "Conversion of Dewar Hexamethylbenzene to Pentamethylcyclopentadienylrhodium(III) Chloride". J. Am. Chem. Soc. 90 (12): 3259–3261. doi:10.1021/ja01014a063. 
  15. ^ Kang, J. W.; Moseley, K.; Maitlis, P. M. (1969). "Pentamethylcyclopentadienylrhodium and -iridium Halides. I. Synthesis and Properties". J. Am. Chem. Soc. 91 (22): 5970–5977. doi:10.1021/ja01050a008. 
  16. ^ White, C.; Yates, A.; Maitlis, P. M.; Heinekey, D. M. (1992). "(η5-Pentamethylcyclopentadienyl)Rhodium and -Iridium Compounds". Inorg. Synth. 29: 228–234. doi:10.1002/9780470132609.ch53. 
  17. ^ Rettig, M. F.; Maitlis, P. M.; Cotton, F. A.; Webb, T. R. (1990). "Tetrakis(tert-butyl isocyanide)Di-μ-chloro-dipalladium(I)". Inorg. Synth. 28: 110–113. doi:10.1002/9780470132593.ch29. 
  18. ^ Liu, X.-H.; Abser, M. N.; Bruce, D. W. (1998). "Synthesis and Characterisation of Rod-Like Metallomesogens of Mn(I) based on Schiff Base Ligands". J. Organomet. Chem. 551 (1–2): 271–280. doi:10.1016/S0022-328X(97)00437-3. Serious UK effort in this area started in 1984 in Sheffield and DWB remembers several early conversations with Peter Maitlis on the subject. ... perhaps the most interesting and satisfying results, at least from a pure liquid crystal perspective, were obtained with their complexes to silver—another of Peter’s initial suggestions. The subject of this paper relates to organometallic metallomesogens—a term coined by Peter—and is dedicated to him with much warmth and affection." (p. 271) 
  19. ^ "She Moss be famous". The Sun. December 3, 2007. Retrieved February 3, 2011.