Controlled Microwave Heating in Modern Organic Synthesis



Although fire is now rarely used in synthetic chemistry, it was not until Robert Bunsen invented the burner in 1855 that the energy from this heat source could be applied to a reaction vessel in a focused manner. The Bunsen burner was later superseded by the isomantle, oil bath, or hot plate as a source for applying heat to a chemical reaction. In the past few years, heating and driving chemical reactions by microwave energy has been an increasingly popular theme in the scientific community. This nonclassical heating technique is slowly moving from a laboratory curiosity to an established technique that is heavily used in both academia and industry. The efficiency of “microwave flash heating” in dramatically reducing reaction times (from days and hours to minutes and seconds) is just one of the many advantages. This Review highlights recent applications of controlled microwave heating in modern organic synthesis, and discusses some of the underlying phenomena and issues involved.