Heck Reaction Makes Many Things Possible

June 9, 2011

I fully admit that I sometimes take for granted how things work. I know that without science and technology, much of what I do and enjoy everyday wouldn't be possible. But I don't give enough credit to the behind-the-scenes magic.

I fully admit that I sometimes take for granted how things work. I know that without science and technology, much of what I do and enjoy everyday wouldn't be possible. But I don't give enough credit to the behind-the-scenes magic.

Right now I am writing this blog while sitting on my patio enjoying a hot Cleveland afternoon. I have my smart phone next to me in case the office calls. My smart phone also enables me to check how ChemicalProcessing.com is doing via an analytics app I downloaded, and I can update Chemical Processing's Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts as well. I feel so connected, so hip, so sci-fi.

Well, maybe not sci-fi – since it's not fiction to be this connected. But years ago the thought of smart phone technology was just the glint in scientists' eyes.

One scientist, Dr. Richard F. Heck, former professor at the Univeristy of Delaware, made many things possible via his Heck Reaction.

Heck, winner of the 2010 Nobel Prize for Chemistry, was recently recognized at the University of Delaware’s “Frontier in Catalysis” event for his Heck Reaction scientific achievement. The event celebrated the remarkable achievements of chemistry that have lead to the development of these ultra portable technologies we rely on every day, such as iPhones, smart phones and tablet computers.

In the Heck Reaction (also called the Mizoroki-Heck reaction named after both Heck and Tsutomu Mizoroki), palladium is used as a catalyst to get carbon atoms to link up. The discovery progressed the field of organometallic chemistry.

The Heck Reaction is widely used in the medical, pharmaceutical, electronics, and industrial fields for its ability to produce organic compounds efficiently, quickly, and at a low temperature. Presently the process is used for hundreds of applications, including coupling fluorescent dyes to DNA strands to map out the human genome, and at Dow's facility in Newark, N.J., to produce thinner circuit boards for smart phones and other computer-controlled devices.

According to Leo Linehan, global business director of Advanced Packaging Technologies at Dow Electronic Materials, there's another benefit to the Heck Reaction: It's a greener technology. Until Heck started using palladium, lead was the main component. Obviously, removing lead from the manufacturing process is a good thing. Palladium is safer and benign.

Linehan also notes that Dow was the first, and still is one of the only companies to utilize this chemical reaction in the electronics industry. To learn more about how Dow uses the Heck Reaction, view the PDF the company created to highlight Dr. Heck's achievements.


Traci Purdum
Senior Digital Editor

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