Understanding solid/solid organic reactions

G. Rothenberg, A. P. Downie, C. L. Raston, Janet Scott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

425 Citations (Scopus)


The concept of an organic reaction between two macroscopic solid particles is investigated. Thus, we study several reactions that have been recently reported to proceed "in the solid phase" and clearly show that, in most cases, grinding the two solid reactants together results in the formation of a liquid phase. This is true both for catalytic transformations (e.g., aldol condensations and oligomerization of benzylic compounds) and for noncatalytic reactions (Baeyer - Villiger oxidations, oxidative coupling of naphthols using iron chloride, condensation of amines and aldehydes to form azomethines, homo-etherification of benzylic alcohols using p-toluenesulfonic acid, and nuclear aromatic bromination with NBS). This liquefaction implies the existence of a eutectic mixture with Tfusion below ambient temperature (although both reagents have higher than ambient melting points). In cases where heating is required, it is again clear that a phase change (from solid to liquid) occurs, explaining the observed reaction kinetics. On the basis of 19 experimental examples, we discuss the possibility of solid-phase organic reactions and the implications of these findings to the reaction between two solid reagents. A general description of such reactive systems is proposed, based on a consideration of the potential for eutectic (or peritectic) formation between the constituents of the liquid phases that arise during the process of mechanical mixing of the solid reagents and products.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8701-8708
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of The American Chemical Society
Issue number36
Publication statusPublished - 12 Sept 2001
Externally publishedYes


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