Bringing photochemistry to the bench

Paul Boughton

Photochemistry is a powerful yet under-utilised synthetic technique. Recently there has been a resurgence in interest in photochemistry due to its ability to provide novel structures and alternative, greener synthetic routes.

Now flow chemistry engineering firm Vapourtec has launched the easy-Photochem system that aims to bring photochemistry to the bench chemist.

In developing the easy-Photochem, Vapourtec's aim is to bring photochemistry out of the hands of dedicated expert users and make the technique easily and safely available for general bench chemists.

easy-Photochem include a high intensity medium pressure mercury lamp

Key features of the easy-Photochem include a high intensity medium pressure mercury lamp that can be controlled between 75 and 150 watts and a range of band-pass and long-pass filters that allow a desired range of wavelengths to be selected. In addition, narrow-band LED light sources are available for specific wavelengths in the range 365nm to 500nm.

It also delivers reaction temperature control between -5°C and 80°C, easily changed reactors, rugged self-priming pumps capable of metering gases, reaction pressures up to 10bar and a touch-panel interface.

Vapourtec MD Duncan Guthrie explained: "Photochemistry is an under-utilised technique within medicinal chemistry with traditional batch photochemistry apparatus having their limitations.

"Continuous flow photochemistry has a number of significant advantages. Firstly reaction products leave the reactor after exposure to the UV source delivering a cleaner reaction.

"Unstable intermediates resulting from reactions with photons can be immediately fed into a second reaction stage.

"In addition UV exposure times are precisely controlled and consistent and the UV penetration depth is not an issue as the thickness of the irradiated fluid is often less than 1.5mm.

"Continuous flow photochemical reactors are much smaller than their batch counterparts so the hazard of maintaining a large volume of solvent in close proximity to a discharge lamp is significantly reduced.

"Finally the photochemical reaction can be scaled simply by running the process for longer.”