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Transitions: Richard F. Heck Nobel Laureate 2010 passes away.

Richard Heck, 2010 Nobel Prize for Chemistry passed way in Manila last October 10, 2015. Heck discovered new ways to bind carbon atoms that were utilized in researches ranging from curing cancer and the production of thin computer screens.

Heck Reaction

Before retiring in the Philippines in 2006, Heck was a chemist and former professor at the University of Delaware when he developed his work on palladium as a catalyst, thus the “Heck Reaction” during the 1960s and 1970s. He was the first University of Delaware professor to win a Nobel Prize.

Heck worked for the University of Delaware for 18 years and later became professor emeritus. It was at the UD when he developed the process of palladium-catalyzed cross couplings in organic synthesis. This resulted in the great strides in drug development and DNA Sequencing. It continues to be used in pharmaceutical and molecular research in the electronics industry and industrial applications such as the manufacture or sunscreens and computer monitors.

 Palladium-Catalyzed Cross Couplings

In an effort to improve efficiency in industrial processes the yield must be maximized. Also in process economics, the number steps must be minimized to reduce wastage and imrpve process sustainability. Heck’s Reaction is a powerful tool which helps achieve these objectives. In considering the Nobel Prize, there must be a real world application of the discovery within 20-30 years

The applications of this chemistry include the synthesis of hydrocarbons, conducting polymers, light-emitting electrodes, active pharmaceutical ingredients and dyes. It can also be used for the enantio-selective synthesis of natural products.

Richard Heck
(August 15, 1931 – October 10, 2015)

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