What is it about?

Catalysts are used extremely widely to make the products we use daily. Though catalysts are not destroyed in the process, they are often lost into the products they form. Using a simple, hand-held magnet, this paper shows how immobilising the catalyst on a magnetic support allows repeated recovery and re-use of the catalyst in one of the most important and widely used reactions - the alkyne-azide cycloaddition (the most famous 'Click' reaction).

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Why is it important?

We take one of the most active catalysts for this transformation and make it reusable and greener as it is far easier to separate from the products and requires little additional solvent use. It therefore satisfies the critera of 'click' chemistry in using benign solvents for the catalytic reaction (water, ethyl acetate) and does not require purification (by column or recrystallization). While copper itself is cheap, the removal of this metal from the products and the means to do this simply using magnetism is a real advantage.


We have all played with magnets but it is really fascinating to see how they can have a role in fundamental synthetic procedures in the lab (and beyond). Iron oxide, silica and copper are all inexpensive and abundant but come together to make a powerful and accessible catalyst system with the only time consuming part being the NHC preparation.

James Wilton-Ely
Imperial College London

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Reusable and highly active supported copper(i)–NHC catalysts for Click chemistry, Chemical Communications, January 2013, Royal Society of Chemistry,
DOI: 10.1039/c3cc44371j.
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