Research themes

Selectively activating and substituting C–H bonds is – in principle – one of the most direct and economical ways of building up and modifying organic compounds, including drugs and other functional molecules. We work on developing and understanding new catalytic C–H activation and functionalisation reactions, so that valuable molecules can be made more directly.

Mechanochemistry uses physical force (e.g. impact or grinding) to mix and activate molecules. This means that toxic and environmentally harmful bulk solvents can be replaced with a much more sustainable alternative. Mechanochemistry can also enable previously impossible reactions useful for building up and modifying drug and other functional molecules.

Scheme summarising mechanochemical organic synthesis and catalysis, green chemistry

Arynes are strained, fleeting, reactive molecules that can form two bonds to almost any combination of elements in the periodic table in one step! We research new methods to generate arynes and control how they behave in valuable new ways. The idea is to develop their potential as versatile building blocks from which many different molecules could be made efficiently.

Banner showing aryne, benzyne capture, trapping reaction

Organic molecules underpin all life on Earth, medicine and modern technology. Unfortunately, the synthesis of organic molecules is very often wasteful, expensive and toxic for both people and the environment.

Our group works on inventing and understanding new ways to manipulate and build up organic molecules in cheaper and more sustainable ways, in line with Green Chemistry principles. For example, we are working on catalytic C–H functionalisation processes that directly add functional groups to organic molecules in the just one step, producing much less waste than conventional approaches.

By one estimate, solvent use accounts for up to 85% of waste produced in the course of organic synthesis. We are investigating reactions for building up functional molecules that work entirely without solvent. We aim to find out when and how they can be made to work for different applications.

We also investigate the mechanisms of the reactions we develop so that they can be fine-tuned, and we have plans to extend the reactivity of arynes and boronates in new directions so they can be used as more versatile building blocks from which very diverse molecules can be made expediently.


We thank all those who make our research possible!

Join Us


We are always interested in hearing from talented, passionate chemists who want to work on projects in synthetic methodology, catalysis, organometallics and related topics.

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Our group is part of the Organic Chemistry research program in the Department of Chemistry at Uppsala University’s Biomedical Centre (BMC).


Department of Chemistry – BMC
Box 576
Uppsala University
75-123 Uppsala

 lukasz dot pilarski at kemi dot uu dot se


Department of Chemistry – BMC
Husargatan 3