Scientists finally crack nature’s most common chemical bond

The carbon-hydrogen bond — 2/3 of all bonds in hydrocarbons — has defied chemists’ attempts to open it up and add new chemical groups. A UC Berkeley team has now cracked the strongest of C-H bonds, those on a molecule’s terminal carbon. The reaction catalyst is an iridium atom to break the bond and a methyl group to add a boron compound. Boron is easily exchanged for other groups, allowing additions to hydrocarbons and natural products.