In starting a blog about microwave synthesis, one can’t help but ponder how far we have come from the Bunsen burner. While I will spend some posts on basic theory over time, my organic background makes me yell out, “Crank up the heat and seal the vessel.” It comes from seeing a reaction sputter along its way and waiting to get to the next step. Of course, as we know these thoughts can get us into major mechanistic trouble. With that in mind, microwaves went from open-vessel refluxing to closed-vessel systems so that we could take advantage of the Arrhenius equation and jam a bunch of energy into a reaction to go from hours to minutes. In general if we have taken good care of our solvents and chemical knowledge we would have a better process. That said, we need to keep track of what solvents allow us to take advantage of the equation and absorb microwave energy in the process. 1000s of papers at my disposal tell us that most organic chemists worth their salt have figured out when and how to utilize the technology.

My basic aim for the blog is to expand on some of the more interesting applications of microwave synthesis for traditional organic reactions but, also, to expand recent trends into materials work, where I believe so much of the really cool things are happening. Every so often, we will keep it interesting and jump into how microwaves are used to advance science and technology (nothing like learning something new). This is a good time to stay current with the technology -we can now say that these process are being used in production. It reminds me of the first microwave reaction I performed in front of a process organic chemist — he laughed and said we will never use this on a batch scale. Hopefully I can show that many of the challenges to the technology have been overcome and are implemented.

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