Improving Drug Production through Electrochemistry

Carbon-nitrogen bonds are critically important. Over 85 percent of the top-selling pharmaceuticals, for instance, have at least one carbon-nitrogen bond. Great advances can be made by establishing efficient, selective, and sustainable reaction technologies to promote the formation of carbon-nitrogen bonds from a range of starting materials.

Song Lin, Chemistry and Chemical Biology, says that electrochemistry, a process that directly uses electricity to drive chemical reactions, seems to be an ideal method for making carbon-nitrogen bonds in a sustainable manner. However, electrochemical reactions frequently do not afford the chemical selectivity and efficiency needed to accomplish a particular transformation.

With this CAREER award, Lin and his team are working to solve this problem by introducing catalysis methods that can control the chemical reaction portion of the process. Lin’s group can better control the yield and identity of the end products with the new methods, therefore increasing the energy efficiency of the electrochemical reactions. Along the way, Lin is studying the mechanisms of these reactions to understand and optimize the processes. The team will also use the new reaction methods to improve the synthesis of bioactive complex targets relevant to the pharmaceutical industry.

At the interface of organic synthesis, catalysis, and electrochemistry, this project will vastly improve the ability to select for certain desired chemical products, with the efficiency and sustainability needed for industry applications.

Cornell Researchers

Funding Received

$650 Thousand spanning 5 years