Skip to main content

Chemical Name Reactions

Fundamental chemical reactions have often been named after their discoverers/developers. They represent a foundation in organic chemistry and help to set up complicated syntheses. As a contract manufacturer of "small organic molecules" and polymers, ChemCon is naturally involved in the development of syntheses and the transfer of syntheses from the laboratory to a larger scale (upscaling). These naming reactions, all of which have already been applied in ChemCon laboratories, are one of the chemical bases for our synthetic work.

A list of name reactions is given here, which is extended weekly. In this way, a reference work is developing that is not only intended to help students.

Osman Achmatowicz was born in Belarus on April 16, 1899. He finished school, including his high school diploma, in Saint Petersburg and studied afterwards at the Stefan Bathory University in Vilnius, where he also belonged to the oldest Polish student fraternity "Konvent Polonia".

He was elected both a member of the Polish Academy of Scholarship and a member of the Warsaw Scientific Society. In 1960, he received an honorary doctorate from the Łódź University of Technology.

The Achmatowicz reaction developed in 1971 was named after him.

In acyloin condensation, two esters react to form an acyloin. R1 and R2 are organyl radicals.

Mechanistically the 1st ester reacts with sodium, which enables the reaction, forming a radical anion. This anion reacts with the radical anion formed from the other ester to form a dianion. Cleavage of two alcoholate residues (R2O-) forms a diketone, which is reduced with excess sodium to form a dianion. This dianion is then hydrolyzed upon aqueous workup to the α-hydroxyketone, acyloin.

Charles Adolphe Wurtz and Alexander Porfyrech Borodin independently discovered this type of reaction at the end of the 19th century.

Charles Adolphe Wurtz was a French chemist and physician. He was born in Strasbourg in 1817. During his medicine studies, he became very interested in clinical chemistry. Wurtz went to Giessen to work for Justus Liebig for a year, then he returned to Paris. Wurtz was engaged in organic chemistry, especially organic nitrogen compounds. At the famous Sorbonne, Wurtz was the first professor of organic chemistry. The Wurtz-Fittig synthesis is another name reaction in which Charles Adolphe Wurtz collaborated.

Alexander Porfyrech Borodin was a Russian composer, professor of organic chemistry, and physician. Bordi was born in St. Petersburg in the early 19th century. Musical talent and a good musical education made him learn several instruments. In 1850 he began his studies in medicine and in 1859 in chemistry. Already at the age of 29, Borodin received a professorship in organic chemistry. Borodin also conducted research in the field of fluorine compounds.

Schematic figure Aldol Reaction and Aldol Condensation

Schematic figure Aldol Reaction and Aldol Condensation

Appel Reaction

Rolf Appel was born in Hamburg in 1921 and studied chemistry at the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg. He received his doctorate in 1951 from the chemist Margot-Becke-Goehring. After graduating, he took over a chemistry chair at the University of Bonn in 1962.

It was a great honor for him to receive the Liebig-Denkmünze in 1986. He has become known for the reaction named after him.

Adolf von Baeyer was born in Berlin in October 1835, the 5th of 7 children. After graduating high school at the Friedrich-Wilhelms-Gymnasium, he studied mathematics and physics at the Friedrich-Wilhelms-University in Berlin and chemistry at the Ruprecht-Karls-University in Heidelberg.

Adolf was a founding member of the "Deutsche Chemische Gesellschaft" (German Chemical Society) in Berlin, which published the technical journal "Berichte der Deutschen Chemischen Gesellschaft" (Reports of the German Chemical Society).

On his 50th birthday, he was raised to hereditary nobility by King Ludwig II of Bavaria and received the title "von".

The Bayer indole synthesis was discovered in 1869 by Adolf von Baeyer and Adolphe Emmerling.

In 1905, von Baeyer won the Nobel Prize for his work on organic dyes.

Victor Villiger was born in 1868 on Lake Zug in Switzerland. After leaving school, Villiger studied chemistry at the University of Geneva before being drafted into military service.

In 1890, he transferred to the University of Munich, where he later earned his doctorate with a thesis on Hexahydroisophthalic acid. It was at this time that he met his mentor Adolf von Baeyer at the university. The two worked together for 11 years and jointly developed the Baeyer-Villiger oxidation between 1899 and 1900.

Adolf von Baeyer was born in Berlin in October 1835, the 5th of 7 children. After graduating high school at the Friedrich-Wilhelms-Gymnasium, he studied mathematics and physics at the Friedrich-Wilhelms-University in Berlin and chemistry at the Ruprecht-Karls-University in Heidelberg.

Adolf was a founding member of the "Deutsche Chemische Gesellschaft" (German Chemical Society) in Berlin, which published the technical journal "Berichte der Deutschen Chemischen Gesellschaft" (Reports of the German Chemical Society).

On his 50th birthday, he was raised to hereditary nobility by King Ludwig II of Bavaria and received the title "von".

Günther Schiemann was born in Breslau in 1899. He attended the University of Breslau and obtained his Ph.D. in 1925 with a dissertation titled "On the Mechanism of Uric Acid Oxidation." Subsequently, he worked as a volunteer assistant at ETH Zurich under Hermann Staudinger until 1926. In 1926 and 1935, Schiemann served as an assistant and senior assistant at the Technical University of Hannover, where he also taught as a lecturer from 1929. He successfully accomplished the Balz-Schiemann synthesis for the first time in 1927. Due to his Jewish heritage, his employment was terminated in 1935, followed by the revocation of his lecturer position in 1937. Between 1935 and 1950, Schiemann worked in the private sector. In 1946, he became a part-time lecturer in Hannover, and in 1950 a professor at the University of Istanbul, where he headed the "Sinai Kimya Institute." In 1956, he returned as a professor to Hannover and led the Institute of Technical Chemistry there.

Nearly 20% of the 200 best-selling pharmaceutical ingredients of the year 2018 contained at least one aryl fluoride or a derivative thereof.

Schematic figure of Balz-Schiemann-Reaction

Schematic figure of Balz-Schiemann-Reaction

Antoine Béchamp was born in France in 1816, but went to Bucharest with his uncle when he was only seven years old. He began an apprenticeship as a pharmacist, which he finished a few years later in France. After he founded his own pharmacy, he worked also at the pharmacy school in the fields of chemistry, physics and toxicology. During this time he met the chemistry professor Louis Pasteur, to whom he dedicated his doctoral thesis in chemistry. Based on this work, he developed his Béchamp reduction in 1852, which contributed to the rise of the paint industry.

Arthur Birch was born in Sydney, Australia, in 1915. He studied at the University of Sydney, where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in 1937 and a Master of Science degree in 1938. In 1940, he received his doctorate from the University of Oxford/UK. In 1952, Birch accepted a professorship in organic chemistry at the University of Sydney. In 1958, he moved to the UK again to take up a professorship at the University of Manchester. From 1967 to 1980, Birch was dean at the Australian National University of Canberra.

Birch's reduction made it possible to chemically synthesize a steroid for the first time, which is still of great importance to the pharmaceutical industry today.

Arthur C. Cope

...was a US-American chemist and professor of organic chemistry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge.

He received his PhD with the topic “The synthesis of local anesthetics containing various phenylalkyl groups: Vinylethyl malonic ester and the cleavage of certain substituted malonic esters with sodium ethoxide” at the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 1932.

During World War II, he conducted a series of researches for chemical weapons, anti-malaria compounds and the treatment of mustard gas victims.

At the MIT, he headed the chemistry department starting in 1945. The preparative organic chemistry was one of his fields of work, especially elimination and condensation reactions. Due to this the cope rearrangement, Diaza Cope rearrangement and Cope elimination were named after him.

Otto Paul Hermann Diels and Kurt Alder:

Diels was born in Hamburg and moved with his family to Berlin, where he studied chemistry. He remained at the University of Berlin until 1915, when he accepted a position at the University of Kiel, where he remained until his retirement in 1945. It was during his time at Kiel, where he worked with Kurt Alder developing the Diels–Alder reaction.
Alder was born in the industrial area of Königshütte, Silesia. When Königshütte became a port of Poland he moved to Berlin. He made his PhD in Kiel where he met Mr. Diels. Alder received several honorary degrees and other awards, such as the 1950 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, which he shared with his teacher Diels for their work on the Diels–Alder reaction.

Schematic figure of Diels-Alder 4+2 cycloaddition

Schematic figure of Diels-Alder 4+2 cycloaddition

1850 Friedel studied science in Strasbourg and, after an interruption; he continued his studies at Sorbonne in 1852. From 1856 to 1870, he worked as curator of the mineral collection of the École des Mines. During this time, he deepened his chemical knowledge under Charles Adolphe Wurtz in the laboratory of the École de médecine. In 1861, Charles Friedel and James Mason Crafts met here. After James earned a Bachelor of Science degree (1858), further studies took him to the Freiberg Mining Academy in 1859, to the University of Heidelberg in 1860 and to the École de Médecine in Paris in 1861. In 1877, they discovered the catalytic effect of aluminum chloride in reactions of aromatics with alkyl halides, today known as Friedel-Crafts reactions.This is a fundamental reaction that every chemist learns and which is also carried out in the ChemCon laboratories.

Victor Grignard:

Failed entrance exams for mathematics – Served in the military - Nobel Prize winner for Chemistry
Although he initially failed the entrance exam, he tried again after a year in the military and was successful. This was not enough for him and he switched to chemistry.
Due to Dr. Grignard, who received the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1912 (together with Mr. Paul Sabatier), it is nowadays possible to perform syntheses with advanced methods in organic chemistry.
Grignard published around 170 scientific articles about his work and worked on a large chemical encyclopedia in French until his death.
Even if he faced a challenge at the beginning, he never gave up.

Schematic figure of Grignar Reaction

Schematic figure of Grignar Reaction

August Wilhelm Hofmann (from 1888 "von Hofmann") was born in Giessen in 1818. He matriculated in 1836 at what is now Justus Liebig University in Giessen; initially for law, but later for chemistry under Justus Liebig. In 1841 he received his doctorate under Liebig with a thesis on the "Chemical Investigation of Organic Bases in Coal Tar ".

In 1845, the "Royal College of Chemistry" in London was founded with Hofmann as its first director. After the death of Prince Albert, the support of the British industry decreased; so Hofmann decided to accept a call to Berlin University as a professor. He taught inorganic and organic chemistry, wrote a textbook and developed the Hofmann voltameter.

Together with Nobel Prize winner Adolf Bayer, among others, he founded the "Deutsche Chemische Gesellschaft" (German Chemical Society); the predecessor association to the "Gesellschaft Deutscher Chemiker" (GDCh).

The Hofmann elimination is a relevant mechanism in anesthesiology with regard to the inactivation of certain muscle relaxants.

Schematic representation of the Hofmann elimination

Schematic representation of the Hofmann elimination

Heinrich Emil Albert Knoevenagel...

..., born in Hannover, was a German chemist.

After studies in Hannover and Göttigen he got his PhD In 1889. Knoevenagel followed Victor Meyer to Heidelberg and became his assistant there.  He habilitated in Heidelberg in 1892 with the topic of "asymmetric carbon". Emil Knoevenagel works at the University of Heidelberg as a Professor and works on nitrogen-heterocycles compounds. The preparation of unsaturated carbonyl compounds is named after him as the Knoevenagel reaction. A special example of Aldol condensation.

Schematic figure of Knövenagel Reaction

Schematic figure of Knövenagel Reaction

Carl Ulrich Franz Mannich was born in Breslau in 1877. He began his pharmacy studies in Marburg and Berlin in 1898. In 1903, he earned his doctorate in Basel and became a habilitated lecturer in Berlin in 1907. From 1911 to 1917, he taught pharmaceutical chemistry in Göttingen. In 1920, he moved to Frankfurt am Main. Afterward, Mannich served as a professor of pharmaceutical chemistry at the Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Berlin and simultaneously as the director of the pharmaceutical institute until 1943. In 1946, he took over the chair of pharmaceutical chemistry at what is now the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology.

From 1932 to 1934, he was the president of the "Deutsche Pharmazeutische Gesellschaft" (German Pharmaceutical Society), which has been awarding the Carl Mannich Medal for "outstanding achievements in the field of scientific pharmacy" since 1959.

The Mannich Reaction is applied in the synthesis of natural substances, the production of pharmaceuticals, and plant protection agents, as well as in the fields of paint and polymer chemistry.

At ChemCon, as a Contract Development and Manufacturing Organization (CDMO), we have over 25 years of experience in the development and manufacturing of Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (API) under the highest Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) conditions. Our portfolio includes active ingredients used in cancer therapy, ophthalmology, and for treating rare diseases (orphan diseases).

In addition to contract development, ChemCon has established a renowned laboratory for contract analytics, operating in accordance with GMP and ICH guidelines, as well as pharmacopeia standards such as the European Pharmacopoeia.

For several years now, we synthesize polymers, particularly Polyethylenimines (PEI) and Polyoxazolines (PxOx), in our labs. These substances can be used in the pharmaceutical industry as reagents for nucleic acid separation, and PEIs are also used as transfection agents. To be used as excipients in medications, they must be manufactured according to GMP, an area in which ChemCon has extensive experience.

Schematic figure of Mannich Reaction

Schematic figure of Mannich Reaction

Arthur Michael...

... was an American chemist who never actually graduated the university. He acquired his knowledge of chemistry through to local teachers in his private laboratory, as he was unable to study at Harvard due to illness. He acquired further knowledge by visiting well-known chemists when he traveled to Europe. At Tufts College, he met his wife and worked as a professor of chemistry. In 1912, he went to Harvard University, where he served as a professor without lecture duties until 1936, despite the fact that he never earned a university degree.  Nowadays, Arthur Michael is mainly known for the Michael Addition, which is named after him.

Bronisław Leonard Radziszewski was born in Warsaw in 1838. In 1855, he completed his secondary education in Warsaw and subsequently began studying natural sciences in Moscow. After his studies, in 1862, he became a natural science teacher at the III. Gymnasium in Warsaw. He actively participated in the January Uprising of 1863. After the uprising's failure, he left Poland to study chemistry under August Kekulé in Ghent between 1864 and 1867. He earned his doctorate in 1867 and then served as a chemistry assistant at the University of Leuven until 1870. After his time in Belgium, he returned to Poland and became the deputy professor of chemistry at the Technical Institute in Krakow. Additionally, he worked as a teacher at the secondary school. In 1872, he became a professor of general and pharmaceutical chemistry in Lwów, thus becoming the first Polish-speaking chemistry professor there. He also chaired the Department of Pharmacy and served as the director of the Chemical Institute. In 1874, he co-founded the Polish Society of Naturalists Copernicus. Starting from 1879, Radziszewski served as the Dean of the Faculty of Philosophy and, from 1882, as the Rector of the University of Lwów.

The Radziszewski synthesis is used to produce imidazoles. Imidazole is a structural element of the hormone histamine. Nowadays, histamine can also be synthetically produced by decarboxylation of the amino acid histidine. Histamine is used, among other things, in a medication for treating rare forms of leukemia and in allergy tests. To be used in medications, histamine must be produced under strict Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) conditions.

Schematic figure of Radziszewski synthesis

Schematic figure of Radziszewski synthesis

Barry Sharpless studied at Darthmouth College. In 1968 he earned his Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry at Stanford University.

Together with William S. Knowles and Ryoji Noyori, Sharpless received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their work on stereoselective oxidation reactions in 2001. 21 years later, in 2022, he received his second Nobel Prize in Chemistry (for fundamental work in click chemistry) together with Carolyn Bertozzi and Morten Meldal. This makes him, besides Frederick Sanger, the only person who has been awarded with the Nobel Prize in Chemistry twice.

Frederick Nye Tebbe…

… was an organometallic chemist who published the so called Tebbe’s reagent which is usable to introduce a methylen group instead of a carbonyl functionality.
Tebbe was born in Oakland, California. He studied chemistry and received a bachelor's degree at Pennsylvania State University.

After the chemistry studies he went at Montana State University studying psychology and philosophy for a year. In 1965 he was hired by DuPont Central Research Department, where he developed Tebbe’s reagent which was named in that way by Robert Grubbs (Nobel Prize 2005).

Fritz Ullmann was a German chemist.

He studied at the University of Geneva, where he also received his PhD in 1895. At the Technische Hochschule Berlin he lectured technical chemistry from 1905 to 1913 as private lecturer and from 1922 to 1925 as an associated professor.

From 1914 to 1922, he published the first edition of the Encyclopedia of Industrial Chemistry in 12 volumes, under the name “Encyclopedia of Industrial Chemistry” a standard work that is still constantly updated.

He discovered some important preparative synthesis methods like the synthesis of diarylamines, synthesis of carbazoles and of course the Ullmann reaction, which we present you here.

Schematic figure of Ullramm Reaction

Schematic figure of Ullramm Reaction

Georg Friedrich Karl Wittig:

Wittig was a German chemist and Nobel Prize winner. Because of his family background, he was very talented artistically. He played the piano, composed and painted very well. However, his love was chemistry. Although he was drafted in the middle of his chemistry studies and became a prisoner of war, he continued his studies as soon as he was free.

By means of the Wittig reaction, carbon-carbon double bonds can be formed. This involves the use of a carbonyl compound and a phosphonium ylide, with the carbonly oxygen substituted for the carbon.

Schematic figure of Wittig Reaction

Schematic figure of Wittig Reaction