Hydrocarbon synthesis with vinyl cations

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Science  27 Jul 2018:
Vol. 361, Issue 6400, pp. 331-332
DOI: 10.1126/science.aau0809

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Hydrocarbons—substances composed of carbon and hydrogen—are central to many industrial processes, including fuel preparation, polymer manufacturing, and the synthesis of feedstock chemicals (1). Many biosynthetic pathways also involve hydrocarbon reactions. For example, geranyl, farnesyl, or geranylgeranyl diphosphates are transformed into thousands of different terpenoid natural products (2). Hydrocarbons are key components of extraterrestrial atmospheres, nebulae, and other regions of space (3). Reactions of simple or polycyclic hydrocarbons were probably among the prebiological conversions that led to more complex molecular structures and the emergence of life (4, 5). On page 381 of this issue, Popov et al. (6) report a method for catalyzing hydrocarbon reactions that have been difficult to achieve with other methods.