Steven Ittel

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Steven D. Ittel
Steven Ittel Portrait.jpg
NationalityUnited States
Alma materMiami University
Northwestern University
Known forHomogeneous catalysis and
organometallic chemistry
Scientific career
FieldsInorganic chemistry
InstitutionsDuPont Central Research

Steven Dale Ittel (born 1946 in Hamilton, Ohio) is an American chemist specializing in organometallic chemistry and homogeneous catalysis.


Ittel attended Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, where he received a bachelor's degree in chemistry in 1968. He was then commissioned as an officer in the United States Public Health Service and studied photochemical smog in the New York City metropolitan area from 1968 to 1970. He attended Northwestern University, where he received his PhD in chemistry under the direction of James A. Ibers in 1974.


Ittel worked on hydride activation of lanthanides for Systems for Nuclear Auxiliary Power (SNAP) at Monsanto's Mound Laboratories for a short time. Upon receiving his PhD from Northwestern, he joined DuPont’s Central Research Department at the Experimental Station in Wilmington, Delaware.

Ittel is best known for his contributions to organometallic chemistry and homogeneous catalysis. He discovered fluxional processes in both diamagnetic[1] and paramagnetic[2] π-allyl organometallic complexes bearing M-H-C agostic interactions. He was responsible for a series of C-H activation reactions based upon fleeting zero-valent iron complexes bearing bidentate phosphorus ligands.[3][4]

While working on the air oxidation of cyclohexane to adipic acid (an intermediate in the preparation of nylon-66) he discovered a series of bis(pyridylimino)isoindoline complexes of cobalt to be very effective catalysts for the decomposition of the intermediate cyclohexylhydroperoxide.[5] He led and contributed to DuPont’s technology for cobalt-catalyzed chain transfer in acrylic radical polymerization.[6] The resulting macromonomers are utilized commercially in a broad range of automotive finishes.

As a manager at DuPont, he directed the work of almost 100 DuPont scientists over the years. One major effort was on DuPont Versipol post-metallocene catalysts for ethylene coordination polymerization and copolymerization.[7]

Late in his career, his research interests became more diverse, yet he never left his central focus of transition metal chemistry. Biopanning produced polypeptides that would selectively bind minerals such as clays and calcium carbonate to cellulose, skin, hair, and other surfaces.[8] His contributions to nanotechnology and the electronics and displays industries include printing carbon nanotubes for plasma displays,[9] spin printing[10] and inkjet printing [11] of nanomaterials, and fluoro-resists for printing OLED displays.[12] Ittel coauthored the definitive textbook, Homogeneous Catalysis,[13] with George Parshall, and his work is recorded in over 150 citations in Chemical Abstracts.

Ittel practices the art of bonsai, curates the bonsai collection at Longwood Gardens,[14] and has displayed trees at Longwood Gardens and the Brandywine River Museum. He contributes to Wikipedia regularly and maintains a website on North American bonsai potters.

Personal life[edit]

Ittel's father was a superintendent of a rural school district and a YMCA camp director, so he spent the first 19 summers of his life at Camp Campbell Gard.

He is married with two children.


  1. ^ Jack M. Williams, Richard K. Brown, Arthur J. Schultz, Galen D. Stucky, and Steven D. Ittel, "Interaction of an Aliphatic Hydrogen Atom with a Transition Metal. The First Direct Observation of a Strong C-H...Metal Interaction Derived from a Single Crystal Neutron Diffraction Study of Fe[P(OCH3)3]3(h3-C8H13)]+[BF4]-," J. Am. Chem. Soc., 100, 7407 (1978).
  2. ^ S. D. Ittel. P. J. Krusic, and P. Meakin, "An Electron Spin Resonance Study of the Fluxional Nature of Paramagnetic (π-Alkenyl)tris(trimethyl phosphite)iron Complexes," J. Am. Chem. Soc., 100, 3264 (1978).
  3. ^ S. D. Ittel, C. A. Tolman, A. D. English, and J. P. Jesson, "The Chemistry of 2-Naphthyl bis[bis(dimethylphosphino)ethane] Hydride Complexes of Fe, Ru, and Os. 2. Cleavage of sp and sp3 C-H, C-O, and C-X Bonds. Coupling of Carbon Dioxide and Acetonitrile," J. Am. Chem. Soc., 100, 7577 (1978).
  4. ^ C. A. Tolman, S. D. Ittel, A. D. English, and J. P. Jesson, "Chemistry of 2-Naphthyl- bis[bis(dimethylphosphino)ethane] Hydride Complexes of Iron, Ruthenium, and Osmium. 3. Cleavage of sp2 C-H Bonds," J. Am. Chem. Soc., 101, 1742 (1979).
  5. ^ US Patent 4,326,084, "Improved Catalytic Process for Oxidation of Cyclohexane and Decomposition of Cyclohexylhydroperoxide," J. D. Druliner, S. D. Ittel, P. J. Krusic, and C. A. Tolman, April 20, 1982.
  6. ^ Alexei A. Gridnev and Steven D. Ittel, “Catalytic Chain Transfer in Free-Radical Polymerizations,” Chem. Rev., 101(12), 3611-3659 (2001).
  7. ^ Steven D. Ittel, Lynda K. Johnson, and Maurice Brookhart, "Late Metal Catalysts for Ethylene Homo- and Copolymerization," Chem. Rev. (Washington, D. C.), 100(4), 1169-1203 (2000).
  8. ^ US Patent 7,749,957 B2, “Clay-Binding Peptides and Methods of Use,” Steven Dale Ittel, Scott D. Cunningham, Pierre E. Rouviere, Stephen R. Fahnestock, John P. O'Brien, Eberhard Schneider, Gregor Schurmann, Peter Wagner. July 6, 2010.
  9. ^ WPO Patent Application 2009108226, “Process for Protecting Carbon Nanotubes,” Steven Dale Ittel. Published September 3, 2009.
  10. ^ US Patent 7,618,704 B2, "Spin Printing of Electronic and Display Components" Steven Dale Ittel and Jeffrey G. Crawford. Nov 17, 2009.
  11. ^ US Patent 7,691,280 B2, “Ink Jet Printing of Etchants and Modifiers,” Robert Paul Waldrop, Steven Dale Ittel, and Howard E. Simmons III. April 6, 2010.
  12. ^ WPO Patent Application 2009055628 A1, “Process and Materials For Making Contained Layers and Devices Made With Same,” Charles D. Lang, Paul Anthony Sant, Jerald Feldman, Steven Dale Ittel, Stephan James McLain,... Filed October 26, 2007. Published 4/30/2009.
  13. ^ "Homogeneous Catalysis," 2nd Edition, George W. Parshall and Steven D. Ittel, Wiley Interscience, New York (1992).
  14. ^ Mary Allinson, “Bonsai Beginnings - A look at the origin of Longwood’s Bonsai Collection,” Longwood Chimes, 292, Winter, 2016, p20.

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