PerspectiveOrganic Chemistry

Stronger bonds bring bigger challenges

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Science  03 Jul 2020:
Vol. 369, Issue 6499, pp. 34-35
DOI: 10.1126/science.abc6168

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Summary

For organic chemists, synthesizing complex molecules in a few steps without waste and with minimal energy has been a long-standing challenge. In many cases, synthetic methodology now enables the design of straightforward syntheses of molecules with different degrees of structural complexity and even their large-scale production. The starting materials are often derived ultimately from hydrocarbons in petroleum after extensive processing. Is it possible to start with hydrocarbons directly? On page 92 of this issue, Laudadio et al. (1) use gas-phase hydrocarbons to form more complex chemical entities by irradiating them with light. This approach was efficiently achieved not in static batch chemistry but under flow conditions through capillary tubing. This challenge was met by their design of a continuous-flow platform for the regioselective activation of gaseous hydrocarbons under mild conditions applied to carbon-carbon bond formation.

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