Contact Information

  • Cynthia Kellen-Yuen
  • Professor
  • Chemistry
  • California State Univ., Sacramento
  • 6000 J Street
  • Sacramento, CA
  • 95819-6057
(916) 278 - 3528

Microwave-Assisted Organic Synthesis in the Organic Lab: A Simple, Greener Wittig Reaction

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Microwave-assisted organic synthesis is becoming a more common laboratory practice. The advantages of using microwave-assisted synthesis include shortened reaction time, lower energy costs and cleaner reactions. This particular experiment explores a much greener Wittig reaction that doesn't require an inert atmosphere, a strong base (i.e., butyl lithium) or even a solvent. In addition to these advantages, this experiment also uses a common domestic microwave and standard glassware.

The greener Witting reaction also provides the instructor with the opportunity to introduce their students to the concepts surrounding thin-layer chromatography, 1H NMR, mass spectrometry, and alkene stereochemistry.

Supplemental material includes chemical list, lab procedure, lab questions, instructor notes, tips for a successful lab and spectroscopic data.

Summary prepared September 2008 by Douglas M. Young at the University of Oregon.


Mertin, E.; Kellen-Yuen, C. J. Chem. Educ., Print 2007, 84, pp 2004-2006.

J. Chem. Educ. (Abstract only)

Category Descriptors

Chemistry Concepts
  • Aldehydes/Ketones
  • Alkenes
  • Carbonyl Chemistry
  • Stereochemistry
Laboratory Techniques
  • Gas-Liquid Chromatography
  • Mass Spectrometry
  • NMR Spectroscopy
  • Rotary Evaporation
  • Thin-layer Chromatography
Green Chemistry Principles
  • Design Less Hazardous Chemical Syntheses
  • Design Safer Chemicals and Products
  • Increase Energy Efficiency
  • Minimize the Potential for Accidents
  • Prevent Waste
  • Use Safer Solvents/Reaction Conditions
Chemistry Subdiscipline
  • Organic Chemistry
Target Audience
  • Colleges/Universities
  • Journal Articles