Flow-type Microwave Synthesizer Enables Highly Efficient Synthesis of Organic Materials

– Widening the range of solvent, and contributing to rapid development and flexible production –

Researchers: Norikane Yasuo, Leader, Koyama Emiko, Senior Researcher, and Joshua Barham, JSPS Postdoctoral Fellow, Molecular Assembly Group, Electronics and Photonics Research Institute, and Sugiyama Jun-ichi, Senior Researcher, Nanoparticle Structural Design Group, Nanomaterials Research Institute


The researchers, in collaboration with SAIDA FDS INC., have developed a continuous organic material synthesizer by improving a flow-type microwave heating device. The developed synthesizer can heat even low-polarity solvents such as toluene and xylene to high temperatures.

The developed flow-type microwave synthesizer and schematic diagram of continuous synthesis of a fullerene derivative

Social Background of Research

In recent years, attention has focused on flow synthesis, in which a solution flows through a channel such as a tube and a continuous chemical reaction occurs. Attention has also focused on microwave heating, which can selectively and rapidly heat a specific substance, as a new technique for organic synthesis. However, until now, it has been difficult to uniformly irradiate a channel with microwaves and use microwave energy efficiently, so microwave heating has been limited to small scale reactions, such as batch reactions which occur by stirring and heating the reaction solution in small reaction vessels.

Details of Research

The developed flow-type microwave synthesizer can control microwave energy appropriately according to the temperature, as well as according to the dielectric properties of the reaction solution which change with temperature upon irradiation, thereby enabling efficient continuous synthesis. As an example, the researchers worked on continuous synthesis of a fullerene derivative, which is known as an organic semiconductor material. Using non-halogenated solvents that could not be used in conventional synthesis of the fullerene derivative, the researchers achieved continuous production of 0.74 g in 1 hour. This was 18 times the productivity of the microwave heated batch reaction (0.04 g/h) and 10 times the productivity of a similar conventionally-heated flow reaction (0.07 g/h).

Future Plans

The researchers will improve the flow-type microwave synthesizer to increase production. They will also develop highly efficient synthesis methods using this device for other organic electronic materials. In addition, they will attempt organic synthesis reactions that are challenging under conventional heating.

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