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Teflon, penicillin, and gunpowder all share a connection. All of these world-changing inventions were the result of pure chance.
It’s possible that a new tool developed by scientists in the journal Science could make it easier and cheaper to manufacture the molecules used in medications and other natural products. Yet it joins the ranks of other unexpected innovations that have come before it.
He is an assistant professor at Ohio State University who was part of the team that first aimed to develop an electricity-activated catalyst that may be used to synthesise targeted medicinal molecules.
A general approach for combining inexpensive and widely available components to build complicated molecules that wouldn’t ordinarily work together has been suggested by their study’s findings. Researchers may be able to safely generate more valuable items with fewer stages and less waste if this chemical process can be streamlined.
Rather than relying on high-energy reagents or additional chemicals, Sevov’s team used the power of electricity to enhance their chemical reactions in the lab.
There has been a new drive in the industrial sector to use electrochemistry to promote chemical transformation due to the fact that electricity is environmentally friendly.
A big advantage of this method is that it gives us complete control over the reactions we’re running,” Sevov stated.
For example, the research could be used to develop agrichemicals (such as insecticides or herbicides) and certain plastics. However, Sevov’s discovery, despite its seeming serendipity, required a great deal of effort and patience to achieve.
While testing various additive combinations for about three months, “something worked and worked phenomenally well,” Sevov said. When we got to that complex, we were able to weave together materials that would normally be impossible to do so.
Sevov’s team decided to employ a nickel atom as a catalyst because precious metal catalysts might cost a lot of money. A catalyst is a substance that speeds up or slows down a chemical reaction by forming and breaking connections.
Everyone in the community benefits from the use of catalysts that are cheap and readily available, such as nickel, he said. Nickel is a cost-effective choice for firms that manufacture pharmaceuticals, plastics, and polymers, as well as food. According to Sevov, crop prices would rise if farmers had to pay more for the agrichemicals produced as a result of these chemical interactions.
A collaboration with Merck, a major pharmaceutical business, will allow the researchers to take their study to the next level by collaborating on the development of new products that utilise more complex reactions and chemicals. In light of their most recent discoveries, Sevov says he is optimistic that their work will open up new possibilities in chemistry.
This reactive intermediate will be used to our advantage, and we will see how far we can go with it,” Sevov said
Further information: Taylor B. Hamby et al, Controlling Ni redox states by dynamic ligand exchange for electroreductive Csp3–Csp2 coupling, Science (2022). DOI: 10.1126/science.abo0039
Source: The Ohio State University