Milligan Research


Name: John Milligan, PhD
Organization: East Falls

4201 Henry Avenue
Search Hall 300
Philadelphia, PA 19144

Contact Number(s):

Our group focuses on developing new chemical reactions that are driven by blue LED light. These studies are within the broader “photoredox” subfield of organic chemistry, which is a powerful paradigm for building organic molecules in a mild and expedient fashion. Our specific interest within this theme is the development of novel radical/polar crossover reactions to create heterocycles from nitrogen-containing unsaturated substrates. Other ongoing research involves an intramural collaboration with design experts at Jefferson to develop 3D printed devices that are useful for organic chemistry.

Research Projects

Blue LED-driven methods for heterocycle synthesis

Heterocycles are widespread among molecules of biological relevance. Saturated heterocycles such as morpholines and tetrahydropyrans are of particular interest in medicinal chemistry, as the three-dimensional nature of these rings can contribute improved drug-like properties. Numerous methods to construct saturated heterocycles exist, but few operate under highly mild conditions and tolerate various substituents with unprotected functional groups. We are developing the concept of blue LED-enabled radical/polar crossover annulation reactions (RPAR) to create heterocycles from nitrogen and carbon-centered radicals. 

3D Printing as an Enabling Tool for Organic Chemistry

Ongoing research aims to develop 3D printed devices for conducting light-triggered chemical reactions. These devices are being designed in collaboration with experts in Jefferson’s Kanbar College of Design, Engineering and Commerce (DEC). Unlike traditional chemistry reactors, these are designed to be inexpensive, easily adaptable and portable, potentially enabling the preparation of molecules used in medicine or agriculture “on demand”. These devices are used to develop new organic photochemical reactions, including reactions that are useful for the preparation of undersupplied medicines.