Dr Charles O'Hara

Senior Lecturer

Pure and Applied Chemistry

Personal statement

Based in the Catalysis and Synthesis Section, I have been an academic within the Department of Pure and Applied Chemistry at Strathclyde since 2006. My main area of research centres on the structure and reactivity of organometallic alkali metal reagents as well as their interaction with organomagnesium compounds. The chemistry which can be achieved by combining the two types of metal reagents is often uprecedented and can be utilised in organic synthesis to prepare otherwise unobtainable compounds, an important aspect for the pharmaceutical and agrochemical industries. In addition, my teaching includes topics such as structure and bonding and tranisition metal chemistry.


Structural studies of donor-free and donor-solvated sodium carboxylates
Gauld Richard M, McLellan Ross, Kennedy Alan R, Carson Freya J, Barker Jim, Reid Jacqueline, O'Hara Charles T, Mulvey Robert E
European Journal of Inorganic Chemistry Vol 2021, pp. 1615-1622 (2021)
Facile access to hetero-poly-functional arenes and meta-substituted arenes via two-step dimetalation and Mg/halogen-exchange protocol
Bruña Sonia, Kennedy Alan R, Fairley Michael, O'Hara Charles T
Chemistry - A European Journal (2020)
Ultrafast amidation of esters using lithium amides under aerobic ambient temperature conditions in sustainable solvents
Fairley Michael, Bole Leonie J, Mulks Florian F, Main Laura, Kennedy Alan R, O'Hara Charles T, García-Álvarez Joaquin, Eva Hevia
Chemical Science Vol 11, pp. 6500-6509 (2020)
Structural and metal-halogen exchange reactivity studies of sodium magnesiate biphenolate complexes
Yeardley Callum, Kennedy Alan R, Gros Philippe C, Touchet Sabrina, Fairley Michael, McLellan Ross, Martínez-Martínez Antonio J, O'Hara Charles T
Dalton Transactions Vol 49, pp. 5257-5263 (2020)
Selective mono- and dimetallation of a group 3 sandwich complex
Martínez-Martínez Antonio J, Kennedy Alan R, Paprocki Valerie, Fantuzzi Felipe, Dewhurst Rian D, O'Hara Charles T, Braunschweig Holger, Mulvey Robert E
Chemical Communications Vol 55, pp. 9677-9680 (2019)
s-Block cooperative catalysis : alkali metal magnesiate-catalysed cyclisation of alkynols
Fairley Michael, Davin Laia, Hernan-Gomez Alberto, García-Álvarez Joaquín, O'Hara Charles T, Hevia Eva
Chemical Science Vol 10, pp. 5821-5831 (2019)

More publications

Professional activities

RSC Main Group Annual Meeting
Professor Michael Lappert Memorial Symposium
Invited lecture at the University of Leicester: Mixed Metal Magnesiate Chemistry: From Inorganic Structural Studies to Organic Synthetic Applications
New Directions in Chiral s-Block Chemistry and Mixed Metal Synthesis
Royal Society of Chemistry (External organisation)

More professional activities


New Bimetallic Chiral Reagents for Asymmetric Synthesis (Royal Society International Exchange: O'Hara (Strathclyde) and Touchet (Nancy) )
O'Hara, Charles (Principal Investigator)
01-Jan-2018 - 28-Jan-2020
Main Group Element Enhancement of Transition Metal C-H Bond Activation Chemistry
O'Hara, Charles (Principal Investigator)
01-Jan-2017 - 29-Jan-2021
Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP - University of Strathclyde) | Fairley, Michael
Hevia, Eva (Principal Investigator) O'Hara, Charles (Co-investigator) Fairley, Michael (Research Co-investigator)
01-Jan-2015 - 17-Jan-2020
EPSRC Doctoral Training Grant - DTA, University of Strathclyde | Orr, Samantha Alana
Mulvey, Robert (Principal Investigator) O'Hara, Charles (Co-investigator) Orr, Samantha Alana (Research Co-investigator)
01-Jan-2013 - 20-Jan-2017
Lithium Cuprates to Copper Lithiates: A New Dawn in Metal Catalysed Chemistry
O'Hara, Charles (Principal Investigator)
"Copper metal has been used by humans for at least the past 10,000 years. Native copper was one of the first metals discovered as it can exist in an uncombined form, and not as a natural mineral like most other more reactive metals. In the 20th century, copper emerged as an important metal for electrical wiring, pipework, architecture and industrial machinery, mainly due to its favourable chemical and physical properties including its ductility, very high electrical and thermal conductivity, durability and corrosion resistance. Copper also has an important biological role. It is an essential trace element, which is vital for the proper functioning of the body's organs and metabolism.

Copper is generally considered as a very unreactive metal; however, when it is chemically-combined with an organic (carbon-containing) molecule to produce an organocopper compound, a vastly different situation arises. One of the first organocopper reagents synthesised, methylcopper, is in fact highly explosive and too reactive to produce a safe, manageable and reproducible chemistry. But when combined with an organolithium compound, the new mixed lithium copper reagent displays a much higher stability which can be harvested to produce an exciting, useful chemistry allowing for a multitude of catalytic chemical transformations to be developed. This has allowed the facile synthesis of new important molecules, which over the past few years have transformed the pharmaceutical industry. Up until now, the fundamental science at play has dictated than these lithium copper reagents exist as lithium cuprates meaning that the lithium centre is formally positively charged, whilst the copper centre holds the negatively charged organic groups rendering it formally negatively charged.

In our group, we have recently made the breakthrough that it is possible to prepare a brand new type of lithium copper compound, where the positive-negative role that each metal plays has been reversed, producing an unprecedented copper lithiate. In this project, the scope of formation and catalytic reactivity of compounds displaying this new formulation and polarity reversal will be fully explored. Results from this new direction within mixed lithium copper chemistry will undoubtedly appeal to a broad spectrum of academics, including inorganic, organometallic and organic chemists, as well as to supramolecular chemists due to the unprecedented structural and coordination chemistry. This new methodology extended to catalysis will also be of considerable interest to researchers in the chemical industry (fine chemicals, pharmaceutical, agrochemical etc.) who strive to produce new key molecules in a facile manner for the benefit of humankind."
01-Jan-2013 - 30-Jan-2015
Chiral Concepts in s-Block Metal Amide Chemistry | Ojeda Amador, Ana Isabel
O'Hara, Charles (Principal Investigator) Mulvey, Robert (Co-investigator) Ojeda Amador, Ana Isabel (Research Co-investigator)
01-Jan-2012 - 21-Jan-2016

More projects


Pure and Applied Chemistry
Royal College Building

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