In recent years, mechanochemistry has enriched the toolbox of synthetic chemists, enabling faster and more sustainable access to new materials and existing products, including active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs). However, molecular-level understanding of most mechanochemical reactions remains limited, delaying the implementation of mechanochemistry in industrial applications. Herein, we have applied in-situ monitoring by Raman spectroscopy to the mechanosynthesis of phenytoin, a World Health Organization (WHO) Essential Medicine, enabling the observation, isolation, and characterization of key molecular-migration intermediates involved in the single-step transformation of benzil, urea, and KOH into phenytoin. This work contributes to the elucidation of a reaction mechanism that has been subjected to a number of interpretations over time and paints a clear picture of how mechanosynthesis can be applied and optimized for the preparation of added-value molecules.
Supporting information for: Mechanistic Insights on the Mechanosynthesis of Phenytoin, a WHO Essential Medicine