A small-scale reactor for light-driven chemistry | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 95 Issue 21 | p. 9 | Concentrates
Issue Date: May 22, 2017

A small-scale reactor for light-driven chemistry

Benchtop setup standardizes conditions for photochemical reactions, boosting reproducibility between research groups
Department: Science & Technology
News Channels: Organic SCENE
Keywords: synthesis, photoreactor, photochemistry
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This new benchtop reactor will enable researchers to more consistently carry out photochemical reactions.
Credit: Merck & Co.
A photo of a small-scale photoreactor that fits on a benchtop.
 
This new benchtop reactor will enable researchers to more consistently carry out photochemical reactions.
Credit: Merck & Co.

Seeking a way to standardize light-driven chemistry, researchers at Princeton University, led by David W. C. MacMillan, teamed up with scientists and engineers at Merck & Co., led by Ian W. Davies, to create a small-scale reactor to use for photochemical transformations (ACS Cent. Sci. 2017, DOI: 10.1021/acscentsci.7b00159). When a new reaction fails or performs poorly, there can be some ambiguity as to why that is, Davies explains. “We wanted to remove that ambiguity so that when we set up reactions and report them, they are set up consistently and are reproducible,” Davies says. The resulting reactor turns out to speed up many known light-driven reactions and boosts yields to boot. The researchers attribute this ability to the reaction vessel’s increased and highly uniform exposure to photons in the reactor. The system works with vials ranging from 2 to 40 mL. Different light sources can be swapped out, so photochemistry can be done at different wavelengths. Merck has made the reactor plans publicly available, so any company could commercialize it. One company, Penn Optical Coatings, is currently taking orders for the reactor and plans to begin shipping it in August at a cost of $4,900 per reactor.

 
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