Catalytic nanoreactors could simplify the fine chemical manufacturing process


The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the novel coronavirus outbreak a “public health emergency of international concern” on 30and January (GMT). The world is shaken by the international spread of new coronavirus infections. Rapid distribution of medicines including anti-viruses is demanded, however, it is very difficult to mass-produce them in a short period of time due to the complicated manufacturing process of the medicines. Amidst this, a research team from POSTECH has successfully developed catalytic nanoreactors that could simplify the manufacturing process for fine chemicals such as drugs and drugs.

The research team consisted of Dr. Soumen Dutta and Prof. In Su Lee from the Chemistry Department of POSTECH, who successfully integrated three different functionalities of catalysts into a single metal organic structure (MOF) nanoplatform. They also demonstrated multi-step cascade reactions, which produce end products with excellent yields and high optical activity, thanks to the synergistic effects of catalytic substances located at a nanometric distance.

Pharmaceutical and chemical manufacturing goes through a series of multi-step synthesis and separation processes and requires high cost and long processing time. In particular, the catalysts used in each synthesis step most often deactivate each other’s reactivity and selectivity over time. It is therefore very difficult and essential to simplify the process by developing the integration of different catalysts while maintaining their reactivity and stability.

The research team synthesized a mesoporous metal-organic structure (MOF) with nanometer-sized pores (20~40 nm) through the self-assembly of metal ions and organic ligands. Next, they created multimodal catalytic nanoreactors (MCNRs) by introducing metal nanoparticle catalysts and enzymes into phased mesopores. They verified that metal ions, nanoparticles and enzymes allocated in mesopores close to MCNRs do not impede each other’s catalytic functionalities but efficiently perform multi-step cascade chemical reactions.

The first author of the article, Dr. Soumen Dutta said:

We were able to demonstrate the chemical manufacturing process, which requires multi-step procedures, in a simplified procedure with a single catalyst. This can lead to simplifying the manufacturing process for fine chemicals such as drugs that require high optical selectivity. »

Professor In Su Lee also showed his anticipation and said, “It can change the chemical process into an environmentally friendly process that can use less solvents and energy used to separate intermediates. In particular, by reducing the number of chemical reaction steps, we can shorten the time it takes to develop vaccines that can respond to a virus, and it will also reduce drug production cost and prices.

This research achievement was published in the online version of Angewandte Chemie International Edition, which is the most important journal in the field of chemistry and applied chemistry. The research was supported by the Basic Science Research Program through the National Research Foundation of Korea.


Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH)

Journal reference:

Dutta, S., et al. (2020) Highly mesoporous organometallic frameworks as synergistic multimodal catalytic platforms for divergent cascade reactions. Angewandte Chemie.


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