Organic synthesis with outstanding atom economy

A research team at the University of Göttingen has discovered an innovative stra
A research team at the University of Göttingen has discovered an innovative strategy in chemical synthesis that combines iron-mediated carbon-hydrogen bond conversion with the concept of photocatalysis. Photo: University of Göttingen/Ackermann research group


Research team at Göttingen University develops environmentally friendly iron catalysis using light as an energy source

A research team at the University of Göttingen has discovered an innovative strategy in chemical synthesis that combines iron-mediated carbon-hydrogen bond conversion with the concept of photocatalysis. This approach offers an efficient, environmentally friendly and cost-effective alternative to previous methods based on the use of air-sensitive additives, so-called Grignard reagents. The results have been published in the journal Nature Catalysis.

The new method developed by scientists at the Institute of Organic and Biomolecular Chemistry is characterized by the use of iron as a catalyst, an abundant and therefore environmentally friendly metal. Iron catalysts are known for their low toxicity and good availability, which makes them a preferred choice for sustainable chemical processes. In combination with photocatalysis, which uses light as an energy source, this method enables chemical reactions to take place under mild conditions.


The concept of atom economy plays a central role in this new approach. The research of Lutz Ackermann’s team aims to design chemical processes in such a way that as little waste as possible is produced and every part of a starting material is integrated into the end product. By optimizing catalysis, the team has succeeded in achieving syntheses with exceptionally high atom economy, which significantly increases production efficiency and helps to reduce waste.

"C’H activation mediated by iron catalysis and free of Grignard reagents is a powerful tool in organic synthesis," says Ackermann. -This method not only opens up new possibilities for the production of chemicals, but also contributes significantly to the reduction of the ecological footprint and safety of chemical synthesis.

Original publication: Antonis M. Messinis et al. Room temperature photo-promoted iron-catalyzed arene C’H alkenylation without Grignard reagents .Nature Catalysis (2024). DOI: 10.1038/s41929’023 -01105-0 .