In the realm of time, a second is quite short. It can be defined as one 86,400th of a 24-hour day. To put it into perspective, a bullet train traveling at a speed of 300 km per hour can cover a distance of approximately 83 meters in just one second. Additionally, an average blink, the rapid closing and opening of the eyelids, lasts for about 0.3 seconds, allowing for three blinks to occur within a single second.
In the field of chemical synthesis, a joint team of researchers from POSTECH (Pohang University of Science and Technology) and Korea University has made a remarkable advancement. Led by Professor Dong-Pyo Kim and Jeong-Un Joo from POSTECH’s Department of Chemical Engineering, and Professor Heejin Kim and Hyune-Jea Lee from Korea University’s Department of Chemistry, they have developed a groundbreaking method for synthesizing a fluorine-based compound.
This innovative technique involves a rapid mixing reaction between a gaseous component and a liquid, which takes less than a single second. The researchers utilized a special reactor with a zigzag-shaped channel and highly permeable non-porous membranes. This configuration enabled efficient swirling and mixing of the gaseous fluoroform and a liquid superbase, utilized for dehydrogenation.
By breaking down fluoroform bubbles into smaller pieces, the contact area between the gas and liquid increased significantly, leading to the effective production of trifluoromethyl anion (CF3-). Remarkably, they achieved this without the need for stabilizers or additives, unlike traditional approaches. The team then quickly reacted the fluoride anion intermediate with another compound to synthesize a fluorine-based compound. The entire process, from generating the fluoride anion intermediate to completing the synthesis, occurred within a single second.
This rapid and efficient method not only improved the yield of fluoride-based compounds but also introduced a robust technique for synthesizing fluorine-based drugs. The research findings hold significant implications for industrial applications, enabling economically efficient synthesis of fluoride compounds and contributing to the study of unstable intermediates.
Fluorine itself is not found naturally in its pure form but exists in various chemical compounds. One example is sodium fluoride, which is commonly used in toothpaste due to its ability to coat teeth and prevent cavities. Synthetic drug molecules containing fluorine have garnered attention for their high permeability into diseased tissues’ cell membranes and strong binding affinity against proteins. Consequently, there is a growing interest in developing fluorine-containing drugs.
By overcoming the challenges associated with fluoroform’s volatility, low reactivity, and decomposition, the research team’s novel reactor design and ultra-fast mixing technique pave the way for the synthesis of novel fluorine-based compounds and the development of new drugs. Their work has the potential to revolutionize the field of fluorine chemistry and open doors to exciting possibilities in drug discovery and industrial applications.