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Lukas Gooßen and Stefania Trita are working on procedures that are supposed to make the production of chemical substances cheaper and more environmentally friendly. © RUB, Marquard

Creating complex molecules in just a few steps

Angew. Chem. Int. Ed.: This process could make the synthesis of drugs and other substances easier, more environmentally friendly and cheaper.

Researchers have found a way to convert single bonds between carbon and hydrogen atoms in a chemical molecule into carbon-carbon bonds. This so-called C-H activation is considered a promising strategy for producing complex molecules from simple starting materials in just a few steps.

As there are many bonds between carbon and hydrogen atoms in every molecule, it is difficult to convert a particular individual bond. This is exactly what a team led by Prof Dr Lukas Gooßen and Stefania Trita from the RUB have now achieved. They report the results in the renowned journal “Angewandte Chemie”.

Was considered impossible

Bonds between carbon and hydrogen are very stable and are reluctant to undergo chemical reactions. “For that reason, it had long been considered impossible to transform these bonds into functional groups”, explains Lukas Gooßen, a member of the Cluster of Excellence Resolv. “We hope that one day the process will enable complex pharmaceutical chemicals and substances required in agriculture to be produced in fewer steps than before and in a more energy-efficient, environmentally friendly and cost-effective manner.”

In the current study, the chemists also showed that the choice of solvent is crucial. Unlike with common solvents, they achieved a much greater yield of the desired product with trichloroethanol.

Original Publication:

S. Trita, A. Biafora, M. Pichette-Drapeau, P. Weber, L. J. Goossen, Regiospecific ortho-C-H Allylation of Benzoic Acids, Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2018

DOI: 10.1002/anie.201712520


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