Guest Speaker: Nobel Prize winner Professor K. Barry Sharpless

Azides and Alkynes: Tigers in a cage
When: Tuesday 25 September, 5pm
Where: N18, Central Theatre 2, Griffith University, Nathan Campus


Organic azides and alkynes share two unique characteristics:

1. both are extremely reactive in principle, but in reality are restrained from most all reactions by high kinetic barriers – like ‘tigers in a cage’, and so ‘invisible’ in the acid/base environments of terrestrial chemistry; and

2. their only reliable and highly selective reaction path is with each other, which sets the stage for unique ‘orthogonal reactivity scenarios’. Our latest results (all crucially dependent on the ‘perfect’ orthogonal reactivity of azide and alkyne groups) will be presented.


Karl Barry Sharpless won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry (2001) for his work on stereoselective oxidation reactions (Sharpless epoxidation, Sharpless asymmetric dihydroxylation, Sharpless oxyamination). This prize was shared with William S. Knowles and Ryoji Noyori (for their work on stereoselective hydrogenation).

Sharpless earned his PhD from Stanford University in 1965 and continued post-doctoral work at Stanford University and Harvard University.

Sharpless has been a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stanford University. He currently holds the W. M. Keck professorship in chemistry at The Scripps Research Institute.

Further Information: Please contact Ms Philippa Galvin, +61 7 3735 6009