Image: Professor Coote.
Original Published Date: 
Thursday, March 3, 2016

A research team including The Australian National University, as part of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Electromaterials Science (ACES), has harnessed static electricity to control chemical reactions for the first time, in a breakthrough that could bring cleaner industry and cheaper nanotechnology. The team used an electric field as a catalyst for a common reaction, the Diels-Alder reaction, improving its reaction rate by a factor of five. Lead researcher Professor Michelle Coote said they had overturned conventional thinking with their new-found control of the common reaction, which is used to make a range of chemicals from self-healing materials to the drug cortisone. "It's the most unexpected result possible," said Professor Coote. "We now have a totally new way of thinking about chemistry. The breakthrough could speed up manufacturing processes and allow unprecedented control of chemical reactions, for example, in manufacturing flexible electronic components based on organic circuits."

Media issued by the Australian National University.

Photo credit: 

Image credit: Stuart Hay, ANU.