The Sceptical Chymist | ACS: Caught in a trap

Published in Chemistry

Having bravely explored the wilds of inorganic chemistry, I decided to meander back to the more familiar territory of organic synthesis, by way of some organometallic chemistry. Braving the overly effective air-conditioning, I shivered through a terrific session in honour of David Milstein. I enjoyed listening to Ilan Marek, who gave a beautifully clear account of some pretty hardcore asymmetric organic synthesis, involving lots of zinc, copper and lithium species. Milstein himself gave a historical overview of his work, including his cool stuff on carbon-carbon bond activation.

But my favourite speaker was Bob Bergman, who wowed the crowd with his latest research on reactions mediated by nanovessels (or cavitands). I love this work – Nature covered some of it in a News & Views article by Julius Rebek last year. Bergman described unpublished results showing that uncharged organic bases (tertiary amines) are actually trapped by cavitands as protonated ammonium cations. This means that acid-catalysed reactions can be perfomed in basic solution! Very nice indeed. Don’t forget that we have a News & Views feature article on C-H activation by Bergman in the March 22nd issue of Nature.

It was, all in all, a brilliant day, which ended with that traditional conference activity, a long night in the bar. As a result I’m now feeling a bit like a run-down battery, but that’s also traditional after a few days. Time to stoke myself up with coffee, I think…


Andrew Mitchinson (Associate Editor, Nature).

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