Professor Richard Chambers FRS
Richard Chambers studied the synthesis and chemistry of organofluorine compounds. When carbon–hydrogen bonds in organic compounds replace much stronger carbon–fluorine bonds, either singly or multiply, a vast range of ‘manmade’ molecules becomes available. An illustration of this is the contrast between polypropene and inert Teflon, which is composed of all carbon–fluorine bonds. Indeed, fluorine-containing compounds have wide-ranging applications in industry, including unique surface effects and important pharmaceuticals such as anaesthetics.
Richard also developed methods for the synthesis many new compounds that are useful in plant-protection products, inert fluids and pharmaceuticals. In the latter case, one of the roles of fluorine is to enhance the lifetime of a drug in the body.
The chemistry of organofluorine compounds is very different from that of their hydrocarbon based counterparts and therefore poses a major test of current theories of mechanism in organic chemistry. Elemental fluorine is the most reactive of the elements; the design and use of microreactors has contributed to good progress in the synthesis of fluorine-containing compounds as drug candidates.
Professor Richard Chambers FRS died on 18 april 2019.
Interest and expertise