Chemists at Ruhr-Universität Bochum have tested a new approach for activating chemical reactions based on the element selenium. They demonstrated that selenium can form bonds similar to those of hydrogen bonds, resulting in accelerated reactions. The exact mechanism is described by the team at the Chair of Organic Chemistry 1 in Bochum, including Prof Dr Stefan Huber and Patrick Wonner, in the journal “Angewandte Chemie”, in collaboration with Prof Dr Daniel Werz from Braunschweig University of Technology.Traditionally, metal complexes are used as activators and catalysts. They form complete, i.e. covalent bonds with the molecule whose reactions they are supposed to accelerate. However, the metals are often expensive or toxic.