A greener Approach for the Synthesis of 1,2,4-selenadiazoles

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A greener Approach for the Synthesis of 1,2,4-selenadiazoles


Shun-Jun Ji, Shun-Yi Wang and their research group at Soochow University have used a peaceful aquatic scene to illustrate their environmentally-friendly chemical reaction. They spoke to RSC about the science behind it.

1,2,4-Selenadiazoles – ring-shaped molecules containing selenium – are hugely useful in the synthesis of pharmaceuticals. Compounds containing these molecules show excellent biological activity and potential as medicines.

However, existing methods for the synthesis of 1,2,4-selenadiazoles are still rare, and those that exist use toxic or environmentally unfriendly materials such as heavy metals or liquid bromine.

In this paper the researchers come up with a greener, more convenient and more efficient synthesis using selenium powder, which is easy to handle as a direct source of selenium atoms. The other reactants are imidamides and isocyanides – simple organic molecules – and no metals are needed.

their hope is that their paper will inspire other organic or medicinal chemists to develop greener methods for the synthesis of organoselenium compounds.


We wanted the illustration to demonstrate the integration of humanities and technology. Therefore, we chose Suzhou double-sided embroidery to show our idea.

The chemical elements were cleverly integrated as goldfish, aquatic plants, and lake stones. Three goldfish in the figure represent three kinds of reaction starting materials, which reflects a harmonious relationship with the natural phase. The red chemical structure in the center of the picture is DIPEA (N,N-diisopropylethylamine) – it looks like a shrimp, which is attaching on aquatic plants, as if to avoid predation by the goldfish. The bubbles in the figure represent the oxidant oxygen, which promotes a faster reaction. The lake stones below the aquatic plants represent the reaction products.

There are two seals on the left side of the cover. The above one reads 'Suzhou' in Chinese, which represents the origin place of the paper. The following one reads 'selenium' in Chinese, which represents our research interest in selenium chemistry.