For more than 30 years now a team of researchers headed by the Director of the Irkutsk Institute of Chemistry of the Siberian Branch of Russian Academy of Sciences, Acad. Boris Trofimov, has been conducting studies of acetylene-a colorless gas with an unpleasant smell which was traditionally used for domestic lighting. Today it is widely used for welding and cutting of metals, synthesis of acrylonitrile, acetaldehyde, vinyl acetate, vinyl chloride, etc. And in the face of the rapid dwindling of carbohydrate raws on our planet it is becoming an alternative to oil and natural gas because, if necessary, it can be turned into a universal fuel raw. Acetylene is a powerful endothermal accumulator: the energy spent on it formation is released in the process of chemical reactions which are considerably accelerated.
The school of Acad. Boris Trofimov accentuates the principle of what they call readiness for instant interactions of nucleophilic reagents via the main catalytic systems. As a result they have been able to discover new reactions, synthetic methods and technologies and develop some earlier unknown products and materials. The list of such discoveries includes: synthesis of pyrolles from ketoximes (molecules from atoms of carbon and oxygen) and acetylene, called the "Trofimov reaction" in monographs and textbooks; hydrotational trimerization of acetylene into 2-vyniloxibutadien; region and stereospecific vinylation of red phosphorus (the most active and ecologically safest modification) and phosphine; synthesis of vinyloxiallenes from acetylene alcohols and many other things.
"Trofimov reaction" has led to the development of key fragments of such systems as hemoglobin, chlorophyll and other related compounds. They have made it possible to synthesize certain semi-products for the manufacture of medicines and materials used in optoelectronics. Using this reaction has considerably reduced the cost of these final products.
The discovery of the Irkutsk scientist provided the basis of a new promising area in the sphere of fine organic synthesis, oriented at biologically active substances which are now used for the making of preparations against HIV-infection (d4T, AZT), vitamins and antibiotics. In many cases synthesis of such complex systems can be described as cascade "self-assembly' which takes place in moderate biometric conditions (water, room temperature). Specialists have also developed new areas of research like the chemistry of phosphide- and phosphinit-ions. Thanks to them it has been possible to obtain phosphoorganic compounds for the production of metal-complex catalysts of a new generation and also of photoreceptors, lurniniophores, nonlinear-optical materials, antipyrenes and photoreagents.
Developing on the basis of the "Trofimov reaction" is the chemistry of pyrroles and N-vinylpyrolles both in Russia (Moscow, St. Petersburg) and in other countries (United States, Britain, France). Irkutsk scientists have developed a fundamentally new method of activation of elementary phosphorus in heterogenic media, above all of its red modification. This has caught the attention of specialists in the Netherlands.
Summing it up, the fundamental studies of members of the school of Acad. Trofimov have made it possible to identify industrially "feasible" methods of synthesis of such products as building blocks, semi-functional monomers, sulfuric polymers, proton-exchange membranes, epoxy resins, special-purpose solvents, ionites, extragents, sorbents, surface-active substances, inhibitors of corrosion, fuel additives, oxidation-reduction and photosensitive polymers, components for optoelectronic devices and lithium sources of current, organic electrolytes, pharmaceutical preparations, fragrant substances and pesticides.
Summing it up, the Irkutsk research unit, which includes 25 doctors of science and 63 candidates of science, has became a tangible generator of outstanding ideas, fundamental knowledge and valuable practical innovations.
Nauka v Sibiri (Science in Siberia), 2005
Prepared by Yaroslav RENKAS
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