公益社団法人有機合成化学協会 SSOCJ - The Society of Synthetic Organic Chemistry, Japan

豊かな明日を創る有機合成

巻頭言

Why Synthetic “Organic” Chemistry?
巽 和之


 The intellectual core of chemistry has been the synthesis of substances, and cutting-edge research in synthetic chemistry has played a crucial role both in creating superior materials with new functions, and in providing indispensable support for our modern society. The contribution of synthetic organic chemists to the advancement of this field has been outstanding, particularly noteworthy being the recent development of new medications and organic devices in cooperation with the corresponding industrial sectors. The activities of The Society of Synthetic Organic Chemistry, Japan, have been very visible and have gained much recognition in this regard.

 The power of organic synthesis is undeniable, and chemistry, and indeed much of the scientific endeavor, will continue to depend on organic synthesis. Nevertheless, I would like to point out that “synthesis” is broader than solely organic chemistry. Furthermore, the concepts of chemical synthesis are relatively well established, this being particularly true in the area of organic chemistry. Can we expect future revolutionary discoveries in the conceptual framework of chemical synthesis based on organic reactions? Obviously, synthetic inorganic chemistry is another mainstay for the creation of new materials, although at present less developed than its organic counterpart. How about physics and biology? In fact, some important modern materials are the “products” of physics, and perhaps physical chemistry. High- temperature superconductors, light- emitting diodes, and semiconductors are well-known examples of materials developed not by chemists, but physicists and applied physicists. The greater part of the development of the new carbon nano-materials has also been accomplished by “physical synthesis”. Although chemistry has aided the flowering of these fields, it can be argued that our efforts continue to be subordinate to the original discoveries in physics.  On the other hand, while chemists have a wide range of sophisticated tools at their command, in many cases these are still no match for naturally occurring biological processes that employ extremely sophisticated and efficient mechanisms to create complex matter. This biosynthesis is indispensable maintaining the existence of all for life forms. Bioorganic chemistry and bio- inspired organic synthesis are now flourishing, but their methodologies are often tangential to the actual biosynthesis and biological brilliance.

 Organic synthesis has earned a leading role in chemistry, and won for itself a status which The Society of Synthetic Organic Chemistry enjoys. But this may be partly due to the domination of organic chemists in chemical research and education in Japan, while scientific reality could reside elsewhere. I believe that chemistry, by virtue of its ability to provide common concepts of molecular transformation and materials to all disciplines, is uniquely suited to link the traditionally independent disciplines of “synthesis”. Perhaps, here is a wonderful opportunity for the Society itself to evolve from “Organic Synthesis” to simply “Synthesis”, by virtue of the talents of the young organic chemists gathering therein.

 Some may view these as critical comments, but it is my hope to inspire continuing debate on the future of “chemical synthesis” and on the role of this Society in that future.

(2010年9月14日受理)
ページ更新日
2011年10月25日