Chemistry

Microwave-Safe Dishes

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Science  09 Oct 2009:
Vol. 326, Issue 5950, pp. 206
DOI: 10.1126/science.326_206c

Numerous conveniences available in the chemistry laboratory (magnetic stirrers, for instance) have been slow to make their way into the kitchen. Chefs can still brag, though, that the ultimate kitchen convenience—the microwave oven—has only recently been widely exploited in the lab. Over the past decade, chemists have begun to explore more systematically the utility of intense microwave sources for accelerating organic reactions. The question remains, however, whether microwave technology is simply a means of achieving very rapid heating, or whether specific reaction pathways might be selectively enhanced through molecular absorption in this wavelength region. In part to address this question, Obermayer et al. fabricated a silicon carbide (SiC) reaction vessel, which absorbs microwaves far more efficiently than conventional Pyrex labware and thus transmits their energy to chemical reagents in conventional thermal fashion. On performing a diverse set of 18 organic reactions under microwave irradiation in both Pyrex and SiC, the authors observed no evidence of nonthermal chemistry.

Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 48, 10.1002/anie.200904185 (2009).

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