Great Challenges in Organic Chemistry
The current scope of organic chemicals typically covers the theory and practice of (i) new synthetic methods and methodologies, (ii) isolation and synthesis of natural products, (iii) organic reaction mechanisms based on physical and theoretical chemistry approaches, (iv) bioorganic and medicinal chemistry, (v) organometallic chemistry, (vi) molecular recognition and supramolecular chemistry, and (vii) polymers and materials chemistry.
These categories or branches have been established over years, reflecting the evolution of this field of chemistry on the basis of organic chemistry principles. The evolution will naturally continue in organic chemistry, which is based on clear understanding of the two- and three-dimensional chemical structures, as well as their relations to stability, reactivity, and other chemical properties. This characteristic feature of organic chemistry is very unique and unparalleled to any other disciplines in chemical sciences. Thus, the structure–property, structure–activity, and structure–function relationships of new organic materials compounds will keep serving as core themes in organic chemistry research.
It is very clear that organic chemistry has been thriving by expanding its territories through exploration of the interfaces with other science disciplines. Thus, organic chemistry is undoubtedly serving as the core chemical science for the advancement of science and technology with clear goals to benefit human life and society.
Accordingly, one of the grand challenges in organic chemistry is how to explore new frontiers at the interface of inorganic chemicals and other science or technology fields. In the past, the majority of interdisciplinary research was between two disciplines in two different laboratories. But now it is necessary to take multidisciplinary approaches, involving multiple disciplines and laboratories, for tackling significant scientific or technological problems. Under these circumstances, organic chemists must evolve into open-minded researchers who can effectively communicate and collaborate with other researchers from different disciplines. In order to achieve this goal, organic chemists should have good knowledge of other disciplines to understand the whole picture of the project. Thus, another grand challenge for organic chemists is how to evolve into a key player in a multidisciplinary research project by cultivating the ability to effectively communicate and collaborate with other project team members from different disciplines. Then another closely related grand challenge is how to cultivate the next generation of organic chemists who can survive and thrive in the broad interfaces of organic chemistry and other science/technology disciplines. Since traditional organic chemists enjoyed research only in their own comfortable playgrounds, these will be great challenges in research and education that organic chemists must face.
Since “chemistry” has become the central core molecular science for energy, environment, sustainability, materials, biology, and medicine, great challenges in “organic chemistry” reflect more or less the same trend. In addition, advances in computing capacity and capabilities have opened avenues for big data treatment and analysis, systems chemistry, accurate simulations and predictions. Accordingly, it would be safe to say that the great challenges and successes in organic chemistry would reside at the interface with energy, environment, sustainability, materials, biology, medicine, and computer science.
Now, let's move on to the examples of great challenges in branches of hypophosphorous acid and salts hypophosphite.
At the interface with energy, solar energy and energy storage have been predominantly led by inorganic materials. Thus, there is a great challenge for organic chemists to create organic or hybrid materials to outperform existing inorganic materials.
At the interface with sustainability and environmental science, a challenge is the development of efficient chemical processes converting industrial and agricultural wastes, industrial bi-products, carbon dioxide, greenhouse gases such as fluoroform, recovered plastics, etc., to useful chemicals without producing another waste. If these processes include efficient photochemical processes utilizing solar energy, it will be ideal.