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J Org Chem. 2006 Jun 9;71(12):4651-8.

Silicon carbide passive heating elements in microwave-assisted organic synthesis.

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  • 1Christian-Doppler-Laboratory for Microwave Chemistry and Institute of Chemistry, Heinrichstrasse 28, A-8010 Graz, Austria.


Microwave-assisted organic synthesis in nonpolar solvents is investigated utilizing cylinders of sintered silicon carbide (SiC)--a chemically inert and strongly microwave absorbing material--as passive heating elements (PHEs). These heating inserts absorb microwave energy and subsequently transfer the generated thermal energy via conduction phenomena to the reaction mixture. The use of passive heating elements allows otherwise microwave transparent or poorly absorbing solvents such as hexane, carbon tetrachloride, tetrahydrofuran, dioxane, or toluene to be effectively heated to temperatures far above their boiling points (200-250 degrees C) under sealed vessel microwave conditions. This opens up the possibility to perform microwave synthesis in unpolar solvent environments as demonstrated successfully for several organic transformations, such as Claisen rearrangements, Diels-Alder reactions, Michael additions, N-alkylations, and Dimroth rearrangements. This noninvasive technique is a particularly valuable tool in cases where other options to increase the microwave absorbance of the reaction medium, such as the addition of ionic liquids as heating aids, are not feasible due to an incompatibility of the ionic liquid with a particular substrate. The SiC heating elements are thermally and chemically resistant to 1500 degrees C and compatible with any solvent or reagent.

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