Organocatalysis is the newest branch of asymmetric catalysis and allows for the formation of chiral molecules from simple substrates using small organic molecules as catalysts. While chemical reactions are driven by the conventional polar reactivity (nucleophile reacting with an electrophile), a major challenge in synthetic chemistry is the creation of a bond between two nucleophiles. A novel reaction concept was discovered recently, enabling the modification of the electronic character of one of the reacting nucleophiles, transforming it into an electrophilic species. This change in electronic character is based on an organocatalytic activation in combination with a redox-system. Thus, the purpose of the project will be to investigate the potential of this novel reaction concept and expanding it to a number of other new and fundamental reactions and methodologies. It is envisioned that this reaction concept can be extended to solve another challenge in chemical reactivity, e. g., the challenge of dual electrophilic coupling. If successful, these reaction concepts might open-up new avenues of important chemical reactivity by allowing currently impossible reactions to take place.
Sebastijan Ričko holds a doctorate in Chemical Sciences from the University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Chemistry and Chemical Technology, Slovenia where he was a researcher working at the Department of Organic Chemistry before his appointment at AIAS. As an AIAS Fellow he will continue his research in the field of organocatalysis, in particular his work will deal the development of novel ways of forming chiral organic molecules.