Discover the Environmental Benefit of Photochemistry

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In her recently published article, Mercy University Assistant Professor Tharushi Perera, Ph.D. drives forward a top priority in modern chemistry: promoting sustainability by reducing the environmental impact of chemical processes. She and colleagues across the globe are contributing to this aim by studying photochemistry, which is the study of chemical reactions triggered by light. 

Photochemistry has emerged as a powerful way to reduce the usage of hazardous chemicals, energy consumption, and waste in the chemical reaction process. In many cases, heat was used to alter chemical compounds in the creation of new materials and products, such as pharmaceutical drugs. However, it is now more commonly known that using heat requires a lot of energy and can be wasteful. Perera’s study demonstrates that using light – such as sunlight which is abundant and freely available – is a more environmentally friendly alternative to using heat when attempting to alter the chemical makeup of materials.  

Perera’s study was conducted with co-authors from Mercy University, Texas State University and Rigaku Corporation - USA and Japan. The article, “Photochemical reactions of a diamidocarbene: cyclopropanation of bromonaphthalene, addition to pyridine, and activation of sp3 C–H bonds,” was published in Chemical Science, a peer-reviewed and flagship journal of the Royal Society of Chemistry. The publication artwork was featured in the esteemed journal’s August 7, 2023, issue inside front cover. 

Perera emphasized the significance of her research: “The implications of our work are far-reaching, offering new possibilities for drug discovery, natural product synthesis and material science,” she said. “As we shine a light on unexplored aspects of photochemical processes, the possibilities for technological advancements and sustainable solutions are vast.” Perera’s study also includes a toolkit for chemists, which outlines new and efficient synthetic routes to complex molecules. 

As an assistant professor of chemistry at Mercy, Perera enthusiastically shares her passion for research with her students. “I integrate my latest research findings into lectures and laboratory activities to inspire future generations of researchers, drive a culture of inquiry and discovery, and demonstrate the relevance of chemistry in the real world.” 

To learn more about Mercy University’s Natural Sciences programs, please click here.  

Tharushi publication