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Dual catalysts help synthesize alpha-olefins into new organic compounds
Date:12/19/2013

CHESTNUT HILL, MA (Dec. 19, 2013) 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.

The team reports in the current online edition of the journal Nature that their advance employed two catalytic reactions one developed in their Boston College lab and another developed by colleagues at MIT. Combining the two reactions in a sequential process resulted in an unprecedented reaction that offered high levels of purity and selectivity, according to the lead researcher, Boston College Professor of Chemistry James P. Morken.

"We developed the first reaction to convert alpha-olefins into new boron compounds," said Morken. "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."

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, Morken said. 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 boron atoms makes them suitable for wider
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Contact: Ed Hayward
ed.hayward@bc.edu
617-552-4826
Boston College
Source:Eurekalert

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