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Unsolved problems in chemistry tend to be questions of the kind "Can we make X chemical compound?", "Can we analyse it?", "Can we purify it?" and are commonly solved rather quickly, but may just as well require considerable efforts to be solved. However, there are also some questions with deeper implications. This article tends to deal with the areas that are the center of new scientific research in chemistry. Problems in chemistry are considered unsolved when an expert in the field considers it unsolved or when several experts in the field disagree about a solution to a problem.
Is Feynmanium the last chemical element that can physically exist? That is, what are the chemical consequences of having an element with an atomic number above 137, whose 1s electrons must travel faster than the speed of light?
Protein folding problem: Is it possible to predict the secondary, tertiary and quaternary structure of a polypeptide sequence based solely on the sequence and environmental information? Inverse protein-folding problem: Is it possible to design a polypeptide sequence which will adopt a given structure under certain environmental conditions? This has been achieved for several small globular proteins in recent years.
RNA folding problem: Is it possible to accurately predict the secondary, tertiary and quaternary structure of a polyribonucleic acid sequence based on its sequence and environment?
What are the chemical origins of life? How did non-living chemical compounds generate self-replicating, complex life forms?
Protein design: Is it possible to design highly active enzymes de novo for any desired reaction?
Biosynthesis: Can desired molecules, natural products or otherwise, be produced in high yield through biosynthetic pathway manipulation?