Silver and Sand – just what the chemists ordered

Posted on 4 October 2016

York's organic chemists have discovered a cheap and efficient way to make lots of new compounds with great potential in the pharmaceutical and agrochemical industries.

‌For more information please see the story on the University's homepage: https://www.york.ac.uk/research/themes/3d-molecules/

 This new method uses just catalytic amounts of silver salts together with cheap silica gel and transforms easily available starting materials into products with unusual 3D-shapes:

Silver nitrate on silica gel

Silver nitrate is the least expensive salt of silver metal and it is widely used to make photographic film. Silica gel, often used as a drying agent, is made from silicon dioxide, one of the most abundant materials on earth and readily obtained from sand.‌

One of the great advantages of this new procedure is that the silver salt on silica gel can be easily removed from the reaction and used over and over again. Another big plus is that the whole process can be automated with the starting material being pumped through the silver salt on silica gel and the product collected at the end meaning the chemist can be having coffee while the reaction progresses.‌

Notes to editors:

This research is published in Angewandte Chemie International Edition at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/anie.201608263/pdf