Prof. Dr. Matthew P. Conley

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M Conley

Prof. Dr. Matthew P. Conley

University of California, Riverside

“Polyolefin Plastics: Building them Up and Breaking them Down”

Prof. Dr. Matthew P. Conley
Email: matthew.conley[at]

This talk will describe some of our efforts to generate well‐defined organometallics on oxide surfaces that behave similarly to weakly coordinating anions.1 The ion-pairs formed on oxides of this type are generally applied as catalysts in olefin polymerization reactions,2 one of the largest industrial applications of surface organometallic chemistry. The chemical understanding of how catalytically active ion-pairs form and/or self-assemble has led us to apply these finding to generate organometallic sites that break down polyolefin plastics. For example, we showed that sulfated aluminum oxide (SAO) reacts with Ta(=CHtBu)(CH2tBu)3 to form organotantalum species that react with H2 to form electrophilic tantalum hydride sites that breakdown high-density polyethylene (HDPE) or isotactic polypropylene (iPP) to aliphatic products in the presence of H2.3 I will also describe our recent results showing that well-defined Ziegler-Natta type active sites (e.g. Cp2M–R+; M = Ti, Zr, Hf; R = alkyl, H) also catalyze hydrogenolysis reactions of polyolefins,4 showing that the catalysts responsible for producing the plastic are also compatible with reactions used to digest waste plastic into smaller alkane fragments for further manipulation.

1 Samudrala, K. K.; Conley, M. P. Chem. Commun. 2023, 59, 4115-4127.
2 Representative examples from our group: a) Culver, D. B.; Dorn, R. W.; Venkatesh, A.; Meeprasert, J.; Rossini, A. J.; Pidko, E. A.; Lipton, A. S.; Lief, G. R.; Conley, M. P. ACS Cent. Sci. 2021, 7, 1225-1231; b) Gao, J.; Dorn, R. W.; Laurent, G. P.; Perras, F. A.; Rossini, A. J.; Conley, M. P. Angew. Chem., Int. Ed. 2022, e202117279.
3 a) Gao, J.; Zhu, L.; Conley, M. P. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2023, 145, 4964-4968; b) Gao, J.; Zhu, L.; Conley, M. P. ACS Catal. 2023, 13, 10765–10769.
4 Samudrala, K. K.; Conley, M. P. Submitted

Matt grew up in and around Chicago. He obtained a B.S. in Chemistry from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2004, and was introduced to research in Vladimir Gevorgyan’s group.

He joined Richard F. Jordan’s group at the University of Chicago for his Ph. D. As a member of the Jordan group Matt studied the isomerization mechanisms of Pd(II) complexes. He pursued a postdoc at the ICIQ in Tarragona, Spain with Javier de Mendoza (2008 – 2011), where he worked on guanidinium receptors.

In 2011 Matt moved to ETH in Zurich, Switzerland to work in Christophe Coperet’s group as a postdoc. In the Copéret group he worked on surface organometallic chemistry to synthesize well-defined heterogeneous catalysts. He also worked on characterization of supported species and molecular organometallic complexes using solid-state NMR.

In 2015, he joined the faculty at the University of California, Riverside and was promoted to Associate Professor with tenure in 2021. At UCR his group focuses on generation of well-defined reactive ion-pairs on surfaces and applying these materials to challenging reaction chemistry. Throughout all of his moves he remained, and currently remains, a loyal fan of the Chicago Cubs.

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