Intelligent catalysis allows controlled synthesis of fluorinated compounds

Professor Tobias Ritter of Harvard University receives BASF Catalysis Award 2011

26-Jul-2011 - Germany

For his outstanding research contributions to catalytic processes in organic synthesis, Professor Dr. Tobias Ritter of Harvard University in Cambridge (USA) is receiving the BASF catalysis Award 2011. The prize, worth €10,000, was presented by Dr. Friedrich Seitz, Head of BASF’s Technology Platform Chemicals Research & Engineering, at the “Heidelberg Forum of Molecular Catalysis”, a symposium of international experts organized jointly by Heidelberg University, Collaborative Research Center 623 “Molecular Catalysts” and BASF SE.

“Catalysis is a key technology for the chemical industry and is an indispensable tool for accessing new feedstocks and developing new energy efficient production processes,” emphasizes Dr. Friedrich Seitz. As a company with a strong international research and development platform for catalysts, BASF therefore attaches particular importance to promoting talented young researchers in this field.

With his research group centered at Harvard University, Professor Ritter is working in the field of synthetic organic and organometallic chemistry and, specifically, on the synthesis of complex molecules. Mechanistic studies are ongoing to develop practical access to molecules of interest in catalysis, medicine and for new materials.

The prizewinner and his research team are currently focusing on fluorination chemistry of complex compounds under mild reaction conditions. This is because organic fluorine compounds, compared to compounds of other halogens, are difficult to synthesize in a controlled manner. However, these substances are of major interest: medical professionals use them for imaging techniques such as positron emission tomography (PET).

“We have developed a new process enabling us to selectively synthesize organic fluorine compounds. Our aim is to extend the universe of substrates for PET spectroscopy,” explains Dr. Tobias Ritter. The chemist, born in 1975 in Lübeck (Germany), has already received numerous awards for his research achievements. He has been based in Harvard since 2006 and was appointed Associate Professor in 2010.

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