Organic chemistry and formulation chemistry. Water as the medium of choice for synthetic chemistry

Interview with Luca Beverina published in Chemistry and Engineering News
green chemistry

The average synthetic organic chemist consider water more of a problem than a resource. Many transformations of interest require the strict exclusion of water. When not harmful, this particular solvent is however considered to be of little use since most of the organic derivatives are hydrophobic.

Some chemists, including Luca Beverina, full professor of organic chemistry of the Department of Materials of the University of Milano – Bicocca, are demonstrating that none of the aforementioned problems truly represents a limit from the point of view of many transformations normally carried out in a controlled environment and in anhydrous solvents.

The addition of a surfactant to the water leads to the formation of numerous association colloids, of which the spherical micelles represent the most common example. These structures are characterized by a hydrophilic crown and a lipophilic core. This characteristic, well known to the formulation chemists, is the key to conduct reactions in water with both hydrophobic reagents and products.

A recent article in the reference magazine of the American Chemical Society Chemistry and Engineering News takes stock of the development of the field, discussing it among others with Prof. Beverina.