Sustainable Chemistry at Unipd. Creating New Molecules with Light


Unveiling the impact of the light source and steric factors on [2 + 2] heterocycloaddition reactions is the name of a study published in 'Nature Synthesis' by a University of Padua research team led by Luca Dell'Amico, of the Department of Chemical Sciences. The work investigates the effect that light alone has on the construction of bioactive molecules of an indole nature.

This is the first study of this relationship. Understanding how different types of lights could vary the reactivity and change these compounds was previously unknown. The work used light sources with different colours at different wavelengths to promote the construction of two types of molecules stemming from the same starting reagents.

The results of this research have very promising implications. Scientists can use this methodology to develop chemical synthesis processes to construct bioactive molecules that are more sustainable as the use of light as energy eliminates the use of toxic reagents, metals, and high temperatures. Thus, decreasing the environmental footprint in the chemical production process. In the case of the study developed by the Department of Chemical Sciences (DiSC) of the University of Padua, light excitation supplies the energy necessary for the construction of these molecules (used in pharmaceuticals). In contrast, light is absorbed and transformed into chemical energy. The starting biomolecule reacts with a second molecule to generate a more complex compound applicable to various biological activities currently under study at the DiSC.