Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Giving chance a helping hand: chemists develop method for discovering new reactions

02.07.2019

Whether they are synthetic materials, medicines or flavourings, life without synthetically produced compounds is barely conceivable in our everyday lives. To produce suitable molecules, industry depends efficient, long-term methods. Chemists from Münster, Erlangen and Leipzig have developed a method to discover new and unexpected reactions. The study was published in the "Chem" journal.

Whether they are synthetic materials such as PET and Teflon, medicines or flavourings, life without synthetically produced compounds is barely conceivable in our everyday lives today. The chemical industry depends on efficient, long-term methods of producing synthetically derived molecules.


Photocatalyst in a cuvette. The underlying molecular processes are investigated using ultrafast spectroscopy.

Christian Henkel


Screening of a variety of possible substrates in the presence of a photocatalyst.

Felix Strieth-Kalthoff

For this purpose, chemists often use catalysts, i.e. additives with which they can facilitate and control chemical reactions. But how are such reactions discovered and developed?

A high degree of knowledge and understanding are required – but, not infrequently, chance also plays a decisive role. A team of chemists at the University of Münster (Germany) have developed a strategy for generating such “random hits” in a systematic way, with the aim of discovering new, unexpected reactions. The study has been published in the “Chem” journal.

Background and method:

The process of systematically conducting a large number of experiments is called ‘screening’ and is established practice in particular in pharmaceutical research relating to active ingredients.

The screening method developed in Münster for discovering reactions combines two steps which cover a variety of individual elements in a reaction and which, in combination, are designed to discover new, synthetically relevant reactions.

In the first step, chemists examine whether a potential substrate actually interacts at all with the catalyst. For this purpose, in the case of photo-catalysts, the phenomenon of emission quenching is used. If a substrate reduces the emission of the catalyst, an interaction between catalyst and substrate is likely.

By systematically screening a large number of randomly selected compounds, new molecules can be identified whose interaction with catalysts was previously unknown.

The interaction between substrate and catalyst does not by itself create a reaction, however. For this reason, the second stage of the screening process involves examining whether a reaction does actually take place when a reaction partner and the catalyst are present.

This means that for the first time, as a result of combining two screening steps, both partners in a new reaction can be identified which react to form a new product.

“This two-dimensional strategy enables us not only to find new catalyst-substrate interactions, but also to actually discover new reactions – including some we hadn’t previously expected,” explains Prof. Frank Glorius from the Institute of Organic Chemistry at Münster University.

Discovering unexpected reactivity

The study shows that the authors were able to discover and further develop three previously unknown reactions. One of these reactions is a so-called photochemical cycloaddition, in which simple, flat molecules – benzothiophenes – are transferred to complex three-dimensional structures.

“As formulated on paper, I would not have considered this reaction to be possible,” says Felix Strieth-Kalthoff, a PhD student and lead author of the study, “because, from an energetic point of view, the key step in this reaction shouldn’t actually be possible.”

To investigate this in more detail, the Münster chemists contacted Prof. Dirk Guldi at the University of Erlangen, who is considered to be the world’s leading expert on investigations into photochemical processes. Working with colleagues from the Leibniz Institute of Surface Engineering in Leipzig, the team was able to throw light on the matter by carrying out measurements in the form of ultrafast spectroscopy.

The chemists used ultrashort laser pulses in order to systematically observe and investigate the individual steps in the reaction. “We’re now able to provide much better explanations for the underlying molecular processes in the triplet-triplet energy transfer – the key activation step,” says Dirk Guldi. “This greater understanding will allow the development of new processes and catalysts,” he adds.

This example shows that the results of such a screening approach not only deliver new reactions but can also, in addition, contribute to a deeper understanding of the subject. “We are convinced that this strategy can be used in other areas of catalysis – and beyond,” says Frank Glorius.

Using, among other things, the latest computer technologies, the team of researchers is already working all out on the development of new screening methods for discovering and understanding new classes of reactions. There is one thing Frank Glorius is certain of: “I believe that the discovery of new types of reactions resulting from data-based strategies, such as these screening methods are, will make a decisive difference to the development of synthetic chemistry.”

Funding:

The work was funded by the German Research Foundation. In the Priority Programme 2102, “Light Controlled Reactivity of Metal Complexes”, chemists and physicists at the University of Münster are working with other groups, primarily in Germany, on the development of innovative photochemical processes.

Wissenschaftliche Ansprechpartner:

Prof. Frank Glorius
University of Münster
Tel: +49 251 8333248
glorius@uni-muenster.de

Originalpublikation:

F. Strieth-Kalthoff, C. Henkel, M. Teders, A. Kahnt, W. Knolle, A. Gómez-Suárez, K. Dirian, W. Alex, K. Bergander, C. G. Daniliuc, B. Abel, D. M. Guldi, F. Glorius (2019): Discovery of Unforeseen Energy-Transfer-Based Transformations Using a Combined Screening Approach. Chem, DOI: 10.1016/j.chempr.2019.06.004

Weitere Informationen:

https://www.cell.com/chem/pdf/S2451-9294(19)30266-9.pdf Original publication in "Chem"
https://www.uni-muenster.de/Chemie.oc/glorius/index.html Glorius group at Münster University

Svenja Ronge | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Airborne chemicals instantly identified using new technology developed at NTU Singapore
16.10.2019 | Nanyang Technological University

nachricht Family of crop viruses revealed at high resolution for the first time
15.10.2019 | John Innes Centre

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Solving the mystery of quantum light in thin layers

A very special kind of light is emitted by tungsten diselenide layers. The reason for this has been unclear. Now an explanation has been found at TU Wien (Vienna)

It is an exotic phenomenon that nobody was able to explain for years: when energy is supplied to a thin layer of the material tungsten diselenide, it begins to...

Im Focus: An ultrafast glimpse of the photochemistry of the atmosphere

Researchers at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet (LMU) in Munich have explored the initial consequences of the interaction of light with molecules on the surface of nanoscopic aerosols.

The nanocosmos is constantly in motion. All natural processes are ultimately determined by the interplay between radiation and matter. Light strikes particles...

Im Focus: Shaping nanoparticles for improved quantum information technology

Particles that are mere nanometers in size are at the forefront of scientific research today. They come in many different shapes: rods, spheres, cubes, vesicles, S-shaped worms and even donut-like rings. What makes them worthy of scientific study is that, being so tiny, they exhibit quantum mechanical properties not possible with larger objects.

Researchers at the Center for Nanoscale Materials (CNM), a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science User Facility located at DOE's Argonne National...

Im Focus: Novel Material for Shipbuilding

A new research project at the TH Mittelhessen focusses on the development of a novel light weight design concept for leisure boats and yachts. Professor Stephan Marzi from the THM Institute of Mechanics and Materials collaborates with Krake Catamarane, which is a shipyard located in Apolda, Thuringia.

The project is set up in an international cooperation with Professor Anders Biel from Karlstad University in Sweden and the Swedish company Lamera from...

Im Focus: Controlling superconducting regions within an exotic metal

Superconductivity has fascinated scientists for many years since it offers the potential to revolutionize current technologies. Materials only become superconductors - meaning that electrons can travel in them with no resistance - at very low temperatures. These days, this unique zero resistance superconductivity is commonly found in a number of technologies, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Future technologies, however, will harness the total synchrony of electronic behavior in superconductors - a property called the phase. There is currently a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

International Symposium on Functional Materials for Electrolysis, Fuel Cells and Metal-Air Batteries

02.10.2019 | Event News

NEXUS 2020: Relationships Between Architecture and Mathematics

02.10.2019 | Event News

Optical Technologies: International Symposium „Future Optics“ in Hannover

19.09.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

Quantum physics: Ménage à trois photon-style

16.10.2019 | Physics and Astronomy

Airborne chemicals instantly identified using new technology developed at NTU Singapore

16.10.2019 | Life Sciences

Always on beat: ultrashort flashes of light under optical control

16.10.2019 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>