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Dr. Peter R. Schreiner presents the Inaugural Stan Brown Lecture

Friday, February 28, 2020
11:30 AM – 12:30 PM
Chernoff Hall
Room: 117
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Title: Carbohydrate formation in the absence of biosynthesis

Abstract: What are the elementary reaction steps of the stereoselective synthesis of simple sugars as key molecules of life for energy and information storage? We present new
strategies to answer this question. Although the simplest sugar, glycolaldehyde (HOCH2CHO), has been generated in the laboratory from its constituents[1] and is suggested
to be the first entry in the famous formose[2] (Butlerow[3]) reaction, the mechanism for the dimerization of two H2CO molecules to glycolaldehyde and further to higher sugars (which are formaldehyde polymers) is a riddle to date; the finding of “glycolaldehyde autocatalysis” does not explain the fundamental chemistry, requires the presence of liquid water, a strong base, very high reactant concentrations, and ambient temperatures – all conditions unlikely to be present on early Earth or in extraterrestrial environments.[4]

In contrast to current hypotheses, we focus on non-aqueous reactions, ideally starting directly from the photoreaction of CO and H2 to give hydroxymethylene (HCOH[5]): Under appropriate conditions H2CO and HCOH react to glycolaldehyde and further to the chiral glyceraldehyde.[6] Abstract continued, please see website below.

Lecture at 11:30 a.m. in CHE117 in Chernoff Hall and reception along with light refreshments to follow approximately 12:45 p.m. in the 4th floor lounge - all are welcome.

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