Soon Hyeok Hong
Seoul National University, South Korea
Soon Hyeok Hong obtained his PhD in 2007 at the California Institute of Technology, under the guidance of Professor Robert H Grubbs. After having Post-doctoral research experience at the University of California, Los Angeles and industrial experiences at Materia, Inc., he began his independent career in academia as an Assistant Professor at Nanyang Technological University with a joint appointment as a National Research Foundation Fellow of the Singapore government in 2008. In 2011, he moved back to his undergraduate school, Seoul National University, where he has been working on organometallic catalysis in developing efficient, practical, and sustainable synthetic methods.
Urea derivatives are commonly found in widespread applications, such as biologically active compounds, pharmaceuticals, agricultural pesticides, dyes for cellulose fibers, and antioxidants in gasoline. Many classical protocols and catalytic transformations have been developed for urea synthesis. Traditional syntheses of urea derivatives use phosgene and isocyanates, which cause tremendous toxicological and environmental problems. Therefore, versatile urea synthesis under mild conditions that avoids environmentally harmful reagents remains a challenge. By applying the concept of acceptorless dehydrogenative coupling, which is a highly advanced environmentally benign strategy for C–O and C–N bond formation directly from alcohols and amines, we developed an unprecedented strategy to synthesize urea derivatives directly from amines utilizing methanol as the C1 source. Symmetrical and unsymmetrical urea derivatives were successfully obtained using methanol as the C1 feedstock. Utilization of methanol as the C1 feedstock could be an ideal solution to reducing the predominant dependence on conventional toxic C1 sources, such as phosgene and isocyanates for urea synthesis.