From: Ruhr-University Bochum
Published July 13, 2017 09:59 AM

How selenium compounds might become catalysts

Chemists at Ruhr-Universität Bochum have tested a new approach for activating chemical reactions based on the element selenium. They demonstrated that selenium can form bonds similar to those of hydrogen bonds, resulting in accelerated reactions. The exact mechanism is described by the team at the Chair of Organic Chemistry 1 in Bochum, including Prof Dr Stefan Huber and Patrick Wonner, in the journal “Angewandte Chemie”, in collaboration with Prof Dr Daniel Werz from Braunschweig University of Technology.

Traditionally, metal complexes are used as activators and catalysts. They form complete, i.e. covalent bonds with the molecule whose reactions they are supposed to accelerate. However, the metals are often expensive or toxic.

Weaker bonds suffice

In the recent years, it has become evident that a covalent bond is not absolutely necessary for activation or catalysis. Weaker bonds, such as hydrogen bonds, might be sufficient. Here, the bond forms between a positively polarised hydrogen atom and the negatively polarised centre of another molecule. In the same way as hydrogen, elements of group 17 in the periodic table, namely halogens such as chlorine, bromide and iodine, can form weak bonds – and thus serve as activators or catalysts.

Read more at Ruhr-University Bochum

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