R. Tom Baker

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
R. Tom Baker
Tsawwassen, British Columbia, Canada
Alma materUniversity of British Columbia and University of California, Los Angeles
Scientific career
InstitutionsUniversity of Ottawa, Los Alamos National Laboratory, DuPont CR&D
Doctoral advisorM. Frederick Hawthorne

R. Tom Baker is an inorganic chemist known for the development and application of inorganic transition metal-based catalysis.


R. Tom Baker was born in Tsawwassen, British Columbia, Canada. He attended University of British Columbia (UBC) as an undergraduate student and earned his B.Sc in Chemistry in 1975. He then conducted his graduate research work under M. Frederick Hawthorne at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). After he earned his Ph.D in Inorganic Chemistry in 1980, he spent a year as a postdoctoral fellow with Philip S. Skell at Pennsylvania State University.


From 1981 to 1996, Baker worked as a research chemist at DuPont CR&D where he became a homogeneous catalysis scouting group leader in 1993. In 1996 he joined Inorganic Isotopes and Actinides Group at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) to work as a research chemist. In 2008 he joined the faculty at University of Ottawa. He was a director of Centre for Catalysis Research and Innovation from 2008 to 2015. He currently is a Canada Research Chair in Catalysis Science for Energy Applications. In 2009, he was awarded fellowship from the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).


Baker has made contributions to the development and application of inorganic transition metal-based catalysis in many areas of chemical industry and academia. During the years at DuPont, his research was focused on developing and applying inorganic homogeneous catalysis to industrial products such as fluorocarbons and nylon, as well as developing transition metal boryl compounds such as boryliridium complexes to facilitate the hydroboration of alkenes.[1][2] After he joined LANL, he turned his interest towards developing sustainable synthetic chemistry with multiphasic, multifunctional catalysis at low temperatures to minimize energy consumption and chemical wastes,[3][4] as well as B-N containing compounds for chemical hydrogen storage.[5]

Much of his recent research has been focused on sustainability and green chemistry, such as developing efficient transition metal-based catalysts for hydrogen storage compounds in order to utilize hydrogen as an alternate safe and clean energy resource. This includes a broad work of B-N containing compounds such as ammonia-borane (H3NBH3) as an ideal hydrogen fuel carrier,[6] as well as developing inexpensive earth-abundant transition metal-based catalysts such as iron complex to facilitate dehydrogenation process of ammonia-borane with less expenses.[7] His work provides insight into the second hydrogen release step of dehydrogenation by isolation and characterization of reaction intermediate.[8]

Baker also works on utilizing copper and vanadium homogeneous catalysts to facilitate aerobic oxidation of lignocellulose to obtain small monomeric organic molecules which can produce more valuable chemicals and renewable biofuels. This research includes investigating reactivity and oxidation selectivity of different metal catalysts towards a variety of lignin models, a study of C-O bond and C-C bond cleavage pathways towards simple and complex lignin models, and the function of base in the aerobic oxidation process.[9][10] Baker’s recent research also includes the development of tandem catalytic system to convert ethanol to n-butanol with high selectivity.[11] N-butanol, owing to its high energy density and immiscibility with water, is known as a better renewable biofuel than ethanol.

His group has also made substantial contributions to organofluorine chemistry, especially on metal-based fluorocarbenes, including synthesis of a variety of fluorocarbene transition metal complexes by directly introducing difluorocarbene ligands to transition metal centres such as cobalt and nickel,[12][13] as well as investigating [2+2] cycloaddition reactions between metal fluorocarbenes and tetrafuoroethylene (TFE), which sheds light on a greener route to produce fluorocarbons from waste polytetrafluoroethylene materials.[14]

Lignocellulose disassembly to break down common lignin linkage into monomeric molecules by transition metal-based catalysts.
Tandem catalytic system to convert ethanol to n-butanol with high selectivity.


  1. ^ Baker, R. Thomas; Ovenall, Derick W.; Calabrese, Joseph C.; Westcott, Stephen A.; Taylor, Nicholas J.; Williams, Ian D.; Marder, Todd B. (December 1990). "Boryliridium and boraethyliridium complexes fac-[IrH2(PMe3)3(BRR')] and fac-[IrH(PMe3)3(.eta.2-CH2BHRR')]". Journal of the American Chemical Society. 112 (25): 9399–9400. doi:10.1021/ja00181a055.
  2. ^ Burgess, Kevin; Van der Donk, Wilfred A.; Westcott, Stephen A.; Marder, Todd B.; Baker, R. Thomas; Calabrese, Joseph C. (November 1992). "Reactions of catecholborane with Wilkinson's catalyst: implications for transition metal-catalyzed hydroborations of alkenes". Journal of the American Chemical Society. 114 (24): 9350–9359. doi:10.1021/ja00050a015.
  3. ^ Baker, R. T. (28 May 1999). "HOMOGENEOUS CATALYSIS:Enhanced: Toward Greener Chemistry". Science. 284 (5419): 1477–1479. doi:10.1126/science.284.5419.1477. S2CID 93160815.
  4. ^ Liu, Fuchen; Abrams, Michael B.; Baker, R. Tom; Tumas, William (2001). "Phase-separable catalysis using room temperature ionic liquids and supercritical carbon dioxide". Chemical Communications (5): 433–434. doi:10.1039/B009701M.
  5. ^ Keaton, Richard J.; Blacquiere, Johanna M.; Baker, R. Tom (February 2007). "Base Metal Catalyzed Dehydrogenation of Ammonia−Borane for Chemical Hydrogen Storage". Journal of the American Chemical Society. 129 (7): 1844–1845. doi:10.1021/ja066860i. PMID 17253687.
  6. ^ Stephens, Frances H.; Pons, Vincent; Tom Baker, R. (2007). "Ammonia–borane: the hydrogen source par excellence?". Dalton Trans. (25): 2613–2626. doi:10.1039/B703053C. PMID 17576485.
  7. ^ Baker, R. Tom; Gordon, John C.; Hamilton, Charles W.; Henson, Neil J.; Lin, Po-Heng; Maguire, Steven; Murugesu, Muralee; Scott, Brian L.; Smythe, Nathan C. (28 March 2012). "Iron Complex-Catalyzed Ammonia–Borane Dehydrogenation. A Potential Route toward B–N-Containing Polymer Motifs Using Earth-Abundant Metal Catalysts". Journal of the American Chemical Society. 134 (12): 5598–5609. doi:10.1021/ja210542r. PMID 22428955.
  8. ^ Kalviri, Hassan A.; Gärtner, Felix; Ye, Gang; Korobkov, Ilia; Baker, R. Tom (2015). "Probing the second dehydrogenation step in ammonia-borane dehydrocoupling: characterization and reactivity of the key intermediate, B-(cyclotriborazanyl)amine-borane". Chem. Sci. 6 (1): 618–624. doi:10.1039/C4SC02710H. PMC 5491959. PMID 28706630.
  9. ^ Hanson, Susan K.; Baker, R. Tom (21 July 2015). "Knocking on Wood: Base Metal Complexes as Catalysts for Selective Oxidation of Lignin Models and Extracts". Accounts of Chemical Research. 48 (7): 2037–2048. doi:10.1021/acs.accounts.5b00104. PMID 26151603.
  10. ^ Díaz-Urrutia, Christian; Chen, Wei-Ching; Crites, Charles-Oneil; Daccache, Jennifer; Korobkov, Ilia; Baker, R. Tom (2015). "Towards lignin valorisation: comparing homogeneous catalysts for the aerobic oxidation and depolymerisation of organosolv lignin". RSC Adv. 5 (86): 70502–70511. doi:10.1039/C5RA15694G.
  11. ^ Chakraborty, Sumit; Piszel, Paige E.; Hayes, Cassandra E.; Baker, R. Tom; Jones, William D. (18 November 2015). "Highly Selective Formation of n-Butanol from Ethanol through the Guerbet Process: A Tandem Catalytic Approach". Journal of the American Chemical Society. 137 (45): 14264–14267. doi:10.1021/jacs.5b10257. PMID 26526779.
  12. ^ Lee, Graham M.; Harrison, Daniel J.; Korobkov, Ilia; Baker, R. Tom (2014). "Stepwise addition of difluorocarbene to a transition metal centre". Chem. Commun. 50 (9): 1128–1130. doi:10.1039/C3CC48468H. PMID 24322965.
  13. ^ Harrison, Daniel J.; Daniels, Alex L.; Korobkov, Ilia; Baker, R. Tom (28 September 2015). "Tetracarbonyl(trifluoromethyl)cobalt(I) [Co(CO)4(CF3)] as a Precursor to New Cobalt Trifluoromethyl and Difluorocarbene Complexes". Organometallics. 34 (18): 4598–4604. doi:10.1021/acs.organomet.5b00674.
  14. ^ Harrison, Daniel J.; Lee, Graham M.; Leclerc, Matthew C.; Korobkov, Ilia; Baker, R. Tom (11 December 2013). "Cobalt Fluorocarbenes: Cycloaddition Reactions with Tetrafluoroethylene and Reactivity of the Perfluorometallacyclic Products". Journal of the American Chemical Society. 135 (49): 18296–18299. doi:10.1021/ja411503c. PMID 24294941.