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Electrochemical Bond Functionalization

Project description

Electric current could pave the way for easier and greener functionalisation

Many chemical reactions are so-called redox reactions in which one species is oxidised (loses electrons) and another reduced (gains electrons). Rather than using specialty chemicals requiring multiple reaction steps and often purification steps while generating waste, molecular electrosynthesis uses electric current as the redox agent. This enables direct electro-functionalisation of inert bonds, opening the door to currently inaccessible products while reducing the environmental impact of organic synthesis. Despite its promise, challenges remain. The EU-funded ElectroFun project is addressing these, establishing a comprehensive set of sustainable strategies for organic electrocatalysis.


The impressive progress in organic chemistry during the past century has propelled this discipline to its current central position as the enabling technology in the physical and life sciences. Despite remarkable advances, our ability to assemble molecules of even moderate structural complexity remains unsatisfactory, since these syntheses continue to be inefficient, rely on a high number of reaction and purification steps, and generate undesired, often toxic waste. These features led to the general consensus on the need for greener chemical transformations that will stimulate the transition to more sustainable chemical industries.
Conventional strategies in molecular syntheses make use of chemical redox reagents and directing groups, the installation of which results in costly reaction steps. Therefore, an environmentally-sound alternative is represented by molecular electrosynthesis to enable direct electro-functionalization of inert bonds. This strategy avoids prefunctionalizations, and prevents undesired waste formation, overall enabling a streamlining of organic synthesis for late-stage diversification.
While significant recent progress has been achieved in electrosynthesis, available methods are limited, and key challenges remain, particularly metalla-electrocatalyzed transformations beyond the realm of innate reactivity are in high demand.
I aim at addressing these major obstacles of selective electrochemical functionalizations. Thus, I will devise efficient electrochemical C–H and CO2 functionalizations without directing groups, gain full selectivity control in molecular electrocatalysis, and achieve late-stage polymer and peptide diversifications. Establishing a comprehensive set of sustainable strategies for organic electrocatalysis, including paired electrolysis, hybrid catalysts and electrophotocatalysis, will undeniably have a tremendous impact on applied areas, such as medicinal chemistry, drug discovery, chemical industries and material sciences.



Net EU contribution
€ 2 499 423,75
Wilhelmsplatz 1
37073 Gottingen

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Niedersachsen Braunschweig Göttingen
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Other funding
€ 0,00

Beneficiaries (1)