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Vol. 27 No. 1
January-February 2005

Conference Call | Reports from recent conferences and symposia 
See also www.iupac.org/symposia

Physical Organic Chemistry

by Guo-Zhen Ji

From 15–20 August 2004, the 17th IUPAC Conference on Physical Organic Chemistry (ICPOC17) was held in Shanghai, China. Approximately 200 participants from 21 countries gathered to present and discuss new findings from the past two years in all aspects of physical organic chemistry. ICPOC17 also emphasized interactions with other fields of science (e.g., mechanistic ideas and studies as driving forces in synthetic chemistry, physical organic chemistry of organized and living systems, and theoretical studies in organic chemistry).

The meeting featured 14 plenary and 17 invited lectures, 41 contributed lectures, and 53 posters. The topics presented at the five-day meeting emphasized the diversity of modern research in physical organic chemistry, with particular emphasis on applying physical-organic-chemistry concepts to biological systems and material sciences. A key topic was biological systems as shown by the following lecture titles:

  • “DNA Charge Transport Chemistry and Biology,” Jacqueline K. Barton, California Institute of Technology, USA
  • “An Alternate View of Enzyme Catalysis,” F. Menger, Emory University, USA
  • “Morphological Chameleons: The Remarkable Aggregation Behavior of Sugar-Based Gemini Amphiphiles,” Jan B.F.N. Engberts, Gronigen, the Netherlands
  • “Efficiency in Intramolecular and Enzymic Catlysis,” Anthony J. Kirby, Cambridge, UK
  • “Why Did Biological Complexity Emerge? Building Bridges Between Chemistry and Biology,” Addy Pross, Ben Gurion University, Israel
  • “Bioantioxidants: From Chemistry to Biology,” Zhong-Li Liu, Lanzhou University, China

Another key topic was materials, as reflected in the following lectures:

  • “Advanced Opto-Electronics Materials by Fullerene and Acetylene Scaffolding,” F. Diederich, ETH, Switzerland
  • “Tooling Up for Nanoworld: The ‘Magic’ of Molecular Machines,” Dave Leigh, Edinburgh, UK
  • “Cyclodextrin-Based Catlysis, Molecular Reactors and Machines, and Microelectronic Devices,” C.J. Easton, Australian National University, Australia
  • “Octupolar Molecules for Nonlinear Optics,” Bong Rae Cho, Korea University, Korea

The basic foundation of physical organic chemistry was presented in the following lectures:

  • “The Single Transition State Model Appropriate for the Fundamental Reactions of Organic Chemistry,” V.D. Parker, Utah State University, USA
  • “Cycloproparenyl Anions-from Model to Real Systems,” Mirjana Eckert-Maksic, Rudjer Boskovic Institute, Croatia
  • “Synthetic Porphyrinoid Chemistry,” Atsuhiro Osuka, Kyoto University, Japan
  • “Kinetics of Electrophile-Nuceophile Combinations: A General Approach to Polar Organic Reactivity,” Herbert Mayr, University of München, Germany
This symbol was adopted as the logo of all conferences on physical organic chemistry in China in 1981. It symbolizes the very essence, nature, or conceptual foundation of physical organic chemistry, namely, “detachment and attachment, donor and acceptor.” They are all related to the movement of electrons.

The local organizer also arranged a fantastic social and cultural program for the participants, including a welcome mixer and visits to Hangzhou, Suzhou, and Zhouzhuang (beautiful cities and towns near Shanghai). Shanghai sightseeing and an acrobatic show were also included in this program. Most participants from Western countries had the opportunity to enjoy traditional and ancient Chinese culture, and acquire an understanding of modern developments occurring in China. Yet, delegates who had not been in China recently were amazed at the modern city of Shanghai, which provides an efficient system of public transportation together with modern expressways to accommodate the rapid increase in private automobiles. The city also features modern housing for many of the 17 million inhabitants, much urban greenery, and many parks. However, rapid growth comes with a price and Shanghai is making efforts to ease environmental problems resulting from rapid industrialization and urban growth, and to preserve historic districts in the city.

The 18th Conference is scheduled for Warsaw from 20–25 August in 2006.

Guo-Zhen Ji <jigz@mail.sioc.ac.cn> is a professor at the Shanghai Institute of Organic Chemistry, the Chinese Academy of Sciences. He is a member of the Subcommittee on Structural and Mechanistic Chemistry and was the chair of the local organizing committee for ICPOC-17.


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