Dr Kwong Fuk Yee is an Associate Professor in the Department of Applied Biology and Chemical Technology at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University. Kwong has made notable achievements in the field of organic catalysts for constructing bonds in aromatic compounds.
Catalysts are reagent that speed upthe rate of chemical reaction, or allow the occurrence of reactions that would not otherwise proceed spontaneously at the desired temperature. They are essential in the manufacturing of complex molecules for pharmaceutical drugs or in the agrochemical industry, where the ability to manipulate chemical compounds to ‘build’ a desired molecule is important. It is also therefore desirable that the catalysts are themselves easily produced from readily commercially available components.
Kwong works on catalysts for cross-coupling reactions, which includes the formation of aromatic bonds between carbon atoms (C-C) and other common atoms (C-X) such as nitrogen and oxygen. Kwong has expanded the methodologies for catalyst design, and in the process built a library of such catalysts, thus providing a resource which can be used by the wider academic community and industry. In particular, Kwong’s work on phosphines has reported high efficiency rates for catalysis. His work on rhodium catalysts has also achieved excellent selectivity.
During the period of his Croucher Senior Research Fellowship, Kwong aims to develop a modular approach to the synthesis of phosphine ligands with a focus on inexpensive compounds such as indoles and bromophenols. Having shown vinyl acetate to be a promising electrophile with strong commercial applications, his work also aims to vary the electrophiles and nucleophiles used in cross coupling reactions.
Kwong completed his PhD in Chemistry at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and worked at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) as a Croucher Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow. He returned to Hong Kong as a Research Associate and Group Manager at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, and was appointed as a Lecturer in 2004 and assumed his current position as Associate Professor in 2010.