Jere Mannisto (HU to AU, May 2019)

I visited the group of Prof. Troels Skrydstrup (AU) in Aarhus for four weeks in May 2019. A research visit seemed like a great opportunity for personal development as a scientist. During the previous year, PhD student Aleksi Sahari from our group had visited Aarhus, and he recommended the experience.

The original plan of the project was to develop a tandem reaction. First, we would activate an aryl ketone, and then expose it to Ni-catalyzed carboxylation using CO2. PhD student Oliver Gedde had already spent a significant amount of time and effort on the project. However, when I arrived, Oliver had discovered that the reaction proceeded without a metal catalyst. We then proceeded to develop a more detailed mechanistic understanding of the reaction. Prior to my arrival, I had researched frustrated Lewis pairs (FLP) and their reactivity. This knowledge came in handy, because an undesired pathway in Oliver’s reaction was similar to the decomposition of FLPs. We performed the reactions using COware screw-cap pressure tubes, which made me appreciate their use in synthesis. In addition, we also discovered a new amidation reaction using CO2 as a carbonyl source. Unfortunately, we were unable to increase the yields to a satisfactory level.

During my stay in the research group, it became apparent how kind and welcoming everybody was towards me. In particular, I appreciated how open people were to discuss their chemistry. Another unique experience was attending the yearly canoe trip of all chemistry students. The event is a whole day trip to a nearby river, where people paddle dressed up in silly costumes. Despite the cold and rainy weather, we enjoyed some barbeque and all had a great time! I am deeply thankful to Oliver, Prof. Skrydstrup and the rest of the group for this great experience.