David Milstein

Weizmann Institute of Science

Primary Section: 14, Chemistry
Membership Type:
Member (elected 2018)


David Milstein is the Israel Matz Professorial Chair of Organic Chemistry at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, where he was Head of the Kimmel Center for Molecular Design. He is known particularly for his work on the activation of strong chemical bonds by metal complexes, and the design of efficient, environmentally benign, catalytic reactions for synthetic and energy applications.
He received his PhD in chemistry from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 1976 and performed post-doctoral research at Colorado State University, where together with his advisor, John Stille, he co-discovered the well known C-C bond-forming Stille Reaction. In 1979 he joined DuPont Company’s Central Research and Development Department, where he became a Group Leader, and in 1987 he moved to the Weizmann Institute of Science. His awards in recent years include the ACS Award in Organometallic Chemistry; the RSC Sir Geoffrey Wilkinson Award; the Meitner Humboldt Senior Research Award; the Israel Prize (Israel’s highest honor); the ENI Environmental Protection Prize; the Gold Medal of the Israel Chemical Society; and the European Prize for Organometallic Chemistry. He is a member of the Israel National Academy of Sciences and Humanities, and the German National Academy of Sciences-Leopoldina.

Research Interests

Current research interests of the Milstein group are directed at the design and applications of sustainable metal-catalyzed reactions, for green synthesis and energy applications. These studies include new approaches for the activation of strong chemical bonds; reactivity and catalytic activity of pincer-type complexes; metal-ligand cooperation in bond activation and catalysis; CO2 activation by metal complexes; acceptorless dehydrogenative coupling (ADC) reactions liberating hydrogen gas; low pressure hydrogenation of normally inert unsaturated bonds; hydrogen generation from sustainable resources; advanced biofuels; liquid-organic hydrogen carriers; and light-induced water splitting. In recent years, several fundamentally new environmentally benign homogeneously catalyzed reactions were developed, leading to green synthetic methodology, and to new directions towards sustainable energy. For example, a new amide bond-forming catalytic reaction was developed, involving dehydrogenative coupling of alcohols and amines with evolution of hydrogen gas; this green reaction has led to waste-free synthesis of amides, peptides and polyamides, as well as to new approaches to high capacity liquid organic hydrogen carrier systems (LOHCs).

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