Phosphorus chemistry is closely linked to chemical research in Germany in many ways. The element was discovered in Hamburg in 1669 by Hennig Brand, a German pharmacist and alchemist who actually wanted to find the philosopher's stone. The phosphor chemiluminescence that occurred during the discovery found its way into forensic chemistry after its demystification as "Mitscherlich sample" (by Eilhard Mitscherlich, 1794-1863) and thus established an important branch of the systematic investigation of criminal activities.
Phosphorus is also known for its variety of allotropes, of which the white, red, black and purple phosphorus have been known for a long time. White phosphorus (P 4 ) is the modification that represents the product of large-scale production. The high reactivity and the molecular structure of P 4 are highly valued in research; Thus, by functionalization, phosphorus-rich molecular compounds can be built up. There are diverse relationships between phosphorus and its heavy homologues: arsenic, antimony and bismuth, which are becoming increasingly important in the field of materials science and catalysis. Therefore, the working group also focuses on the chemistry of the heavy elements of group 15.
Phosphorus compounds are essential for all biological organisms because they are part of elementary biomolecules and are responsible for basic cellular mechanisms in the form of nucleotides, secondary messenger substances and in phosphorylations as post-translational modifications of proteins. Phosphorus compounds are also important building blocks in molecular probes in chemical biology and in modern pharmaceuticals and are therefore central to medicinal chemistry. One example is the hepatitis C drug Sofosbovir, which is based on the development of a nucleotide analog and thus a phosphorus (V) compound.
Inorganic and organic synthetic chemistry cannot be imagined without phosphorus compounds, be it in the Wittig reaction, the Staudinger reaction, the Arbusov and Michaelis-Arbusov reaction, the Mitsunobu reaction or the Horner-Wadsworth-Emmons reaction, as organocatalysts or as multifunctional phosphine ligands also in the form of chiral ligands in metal complex catalysts. In the field of solid-state chemistry and materials science , phosphorus is also an important element, for example in light-emitting diodes, in steels, but also for matches. Phosphorus (a relative of graphene) is a new interesting two-dimensional material that has gained increasing interest in recent years, including among German phosphorus chemists. And last but not least, phosphorus compounds play an essential role in the chemical industry, e.g. as desiccants (e.g. phosphorus (V) oxide), in flame retardants, additives, plasticizers and pesticides or as phosphate in fertilizers.
For this reason, the GDCh Board approved the establishment of a Working Group Phosphorus Chemistry under the umbrella of the GDCh in December 2018. Details are contained in the bylaws.
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Dr. Carina S. Kniep
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last modified: 03.09.2021 11:39 H from C.Kniep