About Our Area
Considering the sustainable development of society, organic synthesis must evolve into an environmentally benign technology that can efficiently convert any molecule to provide value-added organic molecules. In other words, there is an urgent need for a transformative shift toward greener organic synthesis in view of the effective utilization of ubiquitous carbon resources, molecular transformations using renewable energy, and minimization of waste. However, achieving this goal within the framework of conventional organic synthesis is extremely challenging. This is mainly because most of the existing synthetic methods rely on ionic reactions using thermal energy, which require functional groups as a handle for executing precise transformations of the starting materials. Radical reactions are not dependent on functional groups and hold significant potential for implementing truly sustainable chemical synthesis with a wide range of carbon resources. However, it is difficult to tame short-lived, highly reactive radicals, and no guiding principle has been established for the development of radical-mediated selective organic transformations. The research area “Green Catalysis Science” aims to realize the precise control of radical reactions by the development of catalysts capable of harnessing light and/or electric energy based on the integration of inorganic coordination chemistry, solid surface chemistry, and organic chemistry, leading to transform organic synthesis into a form suitable for a sustainable society. Specifically, we will pursue the design of inorganic complexes and solid-state catalysts with the ability to generate radicals at targeted positions in starting materials through light excitation or electron transfer with electric energy. Meanwhile, organic molecular and metal catalysts will also be rationally designed for the rigorous control of the subsequent bond-forming processes of radicals. These catalysts will be exploited in developing molecular transformations to assemble high value-added molecules, which were previously considered nearly impossible to synthesize, from small molecules such as methane and hexane, polymers, and biomass, which have been difficult to use as starting materials, in the shortest possible steps. This will revolutionize methods for the transformation of carbon resources, establishing the next-generation organic synthesis that embodies greenness and is independent of the structure of the molecules.
In this research area, research is conducted through the organization of three groups: Research Group A01 (Control of Radical Generation), Research Group A02 (Control of Radical Reactions), and Research Group A03 (Expansion of Synthetic Processes). To achieve the goal of the area, a fusion of a wide range of fields is essential. Particularly, collaborative research based on understanding and controlling radical species through photo and electrochemical approaches, advanced measurement science, theoretical and computational science, and broad catalysis science creates a basis for exploring methodologies for the transformation of carbon resources. The content expected for publicly offered research in each research group is as follows:
In Research Group A01, the focus is on controlling radical generation and developing methodologies to generate radicals from a wide range of carbon resources, such as small molecules like CO2 and methane, biomass, and polymers, for use as starting materials.
In Research Group A02, the focus is on the catalytic control of selectivity associated with radical-mediated bond formations through not only the development of organic molecular and transition-metal catalysts but also the strategic application of inorganic complexes and solid-state catalysts.
In Research Group A03, the focus is on expanding synthetic processes by radical reactions. This includes not only the development of new reactions with small organic molecules but also novel methods effective for natural product synthesis, polymer synthesis, and the development of photo and electrochemical reactions with polymers.