Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors

Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

Home > Press > A light bulb and a few chemicals: Scientists find a way to help make new reactions

Abstract:
Princeton scientists have discovered a way of stimulating organic molecules that they expect will prompt researchers to create materials from new kinds of chemical reactions.

A light bulb and a few chemicals: Scientists find a way to help make new reactions

Princeton, NJ | Posted on September 6th, 2008

The method of catalysis, when used, could lead to groundbreaking kinds of drugs and agricultural chemicals and will provide a shortcut to standard multi-step methods of chemical production.

The work, conducted by David MacMillan, the A. Barton Hepburn Professor of Organic Chemistry at Princeton, and David Nicewicz, a postdoctoral fellow, will appear in a special online edition of Science on Sept. 4.

The method is disarmingly easy to perform but deeply complex in terms of the science behind it. At its simplest, the process involves using a weak source of light -- like a household light bulb -- to catalyze or propel a reaction in a flask of fluid containing two different classes of chemicals.

Like magic or even a child's tabletop science experiment, the chemicals in the container start to selectively react with each other when exposed to the light.

"This is the first time that chemists have realized the potential to use simple light bulbs -- or weak light -- to catalytically propel organic chemical reactions as extremely simple as it sounds," MacMillan said.

The method brings together two different fields of chemistry -- organic catalysis and inorganic photoredox catalysis and involves combining two different compounds and two different catalysts. "There are two interwoven catalytic cycles where everything is happening at just the right time," MacMillan said. "It's like an orchestra with the perfect conductor."

Experts agreed that the discovery points to exciting possibilities.

"It will provide access to a variety of interesting compounds currently unavailable due to the new bond connections that it enables," said Stephen Buchwald, the Camille Dreyfus Professor of Chemistry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "This method as well as the basic concepts enunciated in the paper are sure to be of great importance, both in academia and in pharmaceutical and other industries."

"What MacMillan has succeeded in doing is to effect a challenging transformation with an efficient, versatile, mild and environmentally benign process," said John Schwab, who oversees organic synthesis grants at the National Institute of General Medical Sciences of the National Institutes of Health. "It's also a beautiful example of taking lessons from nature and applying them to great practical advantage in a non-natural setting."

The reaction involves the chemicals alpha-bromoketone and aldehyde and two catalysts.

Once the chemicals are placed in a flask, the bulb starts the reaction by emitting a light particle or photon that escapes and is absorbed by the inorganic catalyst in the solution.

Once that catalyst becomes excited, it passes off an electron to an alpha-bromoketone molecule. The alpha fragments and produces a highly active, unstable organic molecule. At exactly the same moment, the organic catalyst interacts with the aldehyde, forming an enamine, also an activated unstable molecule. The two unstable molecules are mutually attracted, race toward each other and then combine.

The resulting chemical bond is significant, MacMillan said, because it represents a new chemical reaction that the field of asymmetric catalysis has been trying to make for many years. Moreover, this light bulb strategy, invented in the University's Merck Center for Catalysis, opens the door to many other chemical reactions that have previously been impossible yet now should be easy to make.

Catalysis, the speeding up or sometimes the slowing down of the rate of a chemical reaction, is caused by the addition of some substance that does not undergo a permanent chemical change. Ten years ago, MacMillan led a team that created a new way of instigating chemical reactions -- a new form of catalysis called organocatalysis.

Instead of using metals to propel a chemical reaction (a standard method called organometallic catalysis widely used in the creation of pharmaceuticals), the team developed a way to use organic chemicals such as carbon in the reaction, an environmentally safer, easier and cheaper way to produce drugs. In most cases, the chemical process that creates drugs produces two forms of it, the desired one and a "mirror" image compound.

Because this chemical cousin can often cause untoward side effects, drug industry chemists must find a way to eliminate it. By inventing a method that replaces the expensive and often toxic metallic catalysts with simpler, more readily available organic ones, MacMillan gave them a cheaper shortcut that is now becoming widely adopted on a global scale.

The work appearing in Science was funded by Merck and the National Institutes of Health.

####

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Princeton University
Princeton, New Jersey 08544 USA,
Operator: (609) 258-3000

Copyright © Princeton University

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

News and information

Northwestern researchers achieve unprecedented control of polymer grids: Materials could find applications in water purification, solar energy storage, body armor June 22nd, 2018

Nanobiotix Publishes Positive Phase 2/3 Data For Nanomedicine in Soft Tissue Cancer (Webcast June 22) June 22nd, 2018

Alzheimer's breakthrough: Brain metals that may drive disease progression revealed: In brains affected by Alzheimer's, researchers identify chemically reduced iron species, with mineral forms including a magnetic iron oxide June 22nd, 2018

Collaboration yields discovery of 12-sided silica cages June 20th, 2018

Chemistry

Quantum Interference May Be Key to Smaller Insulators: Breakthrough could jumpstart further miniaturization of transistors June 6th, 2018

Density gradient ultracentrifugation for colloidal nanostructures separation and investigation June 5th, 2018

From Face Recognition to Phase Recognition: Neural Network Captures Atomic-Scale Rearrangements: Scientists use approach analogous to facial-recognition technology to track atomic-scale rearrangements relevant to phase changes, catalytic reactions, and more May 31st, 2018

Northwestern researchers predict materials to stabilize record-high capacity lithium-ion battery: Advancement could pave the way for less expensive, longer-lasting batteries for electric vehicles May 29th, 2018

Discoveries

Alzheimer's breakthrough: Brain metals that may drive disease progression revealed: In brains affected by Alzheimer's, researchers identify chemically reduced iron species, with mineral forms including a magnetic iron oxide June 22nd, 2018

Collaboration yields discovery of 12-sided silica cages June 20th, 2018

Carbon nanotube optics poised to provide pathway to optical-based quantum cryptography and quantum computing: Researchers are exploring enhanced potential of carbon nanotubes for unique applications June 18th, 2018

Camouflaged nanoparticles used to deliver killer protein to cancer June 17th, 2018

Announcements

Northwestern researchers achieve unprecedented control of polymer grids: Materials could find applications in water purification, solar energy storage, body armor June 22nd, 2018

Nanobiotix Publishes Positive Phase 2/3 Data For Nanomedicine in Soft Tissue Cancer (Webcast June 22) June 22nd, 2018

Alzheimer's breakthrough: Brain metals that may drive disease progression revealed: In brains affected by Alzheimer's, researchers identify chemically reduced iron species, with mineral forms including a magnetic iron oxide June 22nd, 2018

Collaboration yields discovery of 12-sided silica cages June 20th, 2018

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE



  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project