FEB 25, 2019 2:25 PM PST

Photoelectrochemical Cells To Produce New Drug Discovery Molecules

WRITTEN BY: Nouran Amin

Photoelectrochemical (PEC) cells utilize photocathodes and photoanodes to "split" water into hydrogen and oxygen. PEC cells have been primarily studied for the conversion of solar energy into chemical fuels. They work under mild conditions with light making them ideal for other catalyzing reactions that can convert organic molecules into high efficacy molecules need to develop new therapeutics.

Learn more about PEC cells:

Unfortunately, PEC cells have rarely been studied for organic synthesis with exceptions of some handful attempts of manufacturing simple substrates. The need to study PEC cells for broad-scope synthetic methodologies is crucial for creating functional organic molecules.

However, a process known as "direct amination” involving the addition of adding an amine group to an organic molecule without pre-activating the molecule, may prove most helpful in PEC cells for pharmaceuticals and agrochemicals. Direct amination is now being examined in a study for the development of a new method involving animating arenes. "Our method is operationally simple and can be used to synthesize a broad range of nitrogen-containing heterocycles relevant to drug discovery," writes Lei Zhang, the lead author of the study. "Pioneering studies have yielded robust hematite samples that are efficient for water splitting, but hematite has never been used to catalyze organic synthesis," says Hu.

"This is an important demonstration of principle for using PEC cells for the production of high added-value chemicals and pharmaceuticals," says Hu. "The work merges two traditionally separated fields, namely photoelectrochemistry and organic synthesis. There are plenty of untapped opportunities for this approach, and we are excited to further explore these opportunities."

Source: Science Daily

About the Author
Doctorate (PhD)
Nouran is a scientist, educator, and life-long learner with a passion for making science more communicable. When not busy in the lab isolating blood macrophages, she enjoys writing on various STEM topics.
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