• carbonylation;
  • catalysis;
  • catalyst screening;
  • microfluidics;
  • micro-reactor;
  • palladium


The evaluation and selection of the most appropriate catalyst for a chemical transformation is an important process in many areas of synthetic chemistry. Conventional catalyst screening involving batch reactor systems can be both time-consuming and expensive, resulting in a large number of individual chemical reactions. Continuous flow microfluidic reactors are increasingly viewed as a powerful alternative format for reacting and processing larger numbers of small-scale reactions in a rapid, more controlled and safer fashion. In this study we demonstrate the use of a planar glass microfluidic reactor for performing the three-component palladium-catalysed aminocarbonylation reaction of iodobenzene, benzylamine and carbon monoxide to form N-benzylbenzamide, and screen a series of palladium catalysts over a range of temperatures. N-Benzylbenzamide product yields for this reaction were found to be highly dependent on the nature of the catalyst and reaction temperature. The majority of catalysts gave good to high yields under typical flow conditions at high temperatures (150 °C), however the palladium(II) chloride-Xantphos complex [PdCl2(Xantphos)] proved to be far superior as a catalyst at lower temperatures (75–120 °C). The utilised method was found to be an efficent and reliable way for screening a large number of palladium-catalysed carbonylation reactions and may prove useful in screening other gas/liquid phase reactions.