In 1986 Richard Gedye and coworkers published a shortcommunication in
, entitled "The Use Of MicrowaveOvens for Rapid Organic Synthesis" which for the first time describedthe utilization and advantages of microwave irradiation for organicsynthesis . In this original publication four different types of reactionswere studied, including the hydrolysis of benzamide to benzoic acidunder acidic conditions (Scheme 1). Considerable rate increases (5 -1000 fold) were observed for all investigated transformations whencompared to classical thermal reflux conditions. The same year, anindependent study by the groups of Giguere and Majetich describingsimilar rate-enhancements in microwave-promoted Diels-Alder,Claisen, and ene reactions was published in the same journal .
The advantages of using microwave dielectric heating for performingorganic reactions were soon realized by many different groups and asa consequence the amount of articles describing high-speed chemicalsynthesis promoted by microwave irradiation has grown quickly from~200 in 1995 to ~1000 in 2001. In addition an unusually largenumber of review articles and commentaries (~60) has been publishedon this subject covering various aspects of microwave-assistedsynthesisImportantly, many of the early microwave-assisted reactions, such asthe process shown in Figure 1, were carried out in sealed Teflon orglass vessels using unmodified domestic household ovens . Due to thenature of microwave dielectric heating accurate temperaturemeasurements using conventional means of temperaturedetermination during the irradiation process were not possible at thetime. Therefore the reasons for the observed rate-enhancements werein many cases not fully understood and led to a lot of speculation andfierce debate on the existence of so-called non-thermal or specificmicrowave effects . Today, a variety of dedicated microwave reactors for chemicalsynthesis are commercially available that incorporate built-in magnetic