Boston College chemists new chemical synthesis methodology converts alpha-olefins into organic compounds

Dual catalyst converts alpha-olefins into new organic compounds

7:15 AM, 4th January 2014
Boston College chemists new research on alpha-olefins
James P Morken, Professor, Boston College.

CHESTNUT HILL, US: Boston College chemists have developed a new chemical synthesis methodology that converts chemicals known as alpha-olefins into new organic compounds. By combining a pair of catalytic reactions in sequence, the researchers converted inexpensive and plentiful chemicals into new boron-containing organic compounds prized by researchers.

According to James P Morken, Professor, Boston College, by combining the two reactions in a sequential process resulted in an unprecedented reaction that offered high levels of purity and selectivity.

“We developed the first reaction to convert alpha-olefins into new boron compounds. The second reaction is a palladium-catalyzed reaction that uses a catalyst developed by a team at MIT. Together, these two reactions result in an unprecedented reaction process that works extremely well,” said Morken.

Organic chemists face the challenge of developing new compounds, such as medicines and materials, in a more efficient manner. A driving influence is to produce innovative compounds through simpler, more efficient processes that generate less waste and reduce costs, in particular through the use of readily available chemicals.

The team was surprised by the high level of reactivity in the boron-containing compounds from the first reaction, said Morken. The findings considerably expand the applications of alpha-olefins, a group of organic compounds distinguished by having a double bond at the primary, or alpha, position of their structure. While alpha-olefins are naturally occurring feedstocks that are usually converted into plastics, the increased reactivity that results from adding two borons atoms makes them suitable for wider range of research applications.

Morken said the new methodology should allow for the rapid and efficient production of important compounds from raw chemical feedstocks. As an example, the team used the new process to convert propene gas into phenethylamines, which are an important class of therapeutics, Morken said. In another application, the team used this new method of catalytic reactions to convert another alpha-olefin into pregabalin, which has been used in a variety of pain management drugs.

 

© Boston College News

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