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Microwave ovens - out of the kitchen

Cresswell, S.L. and Haswell, S.J. (2001) Microwave ovens - out of the kitchen. Journal of Chemical Education, 78 (7). pp. 900-904. ISSN 0021-9584

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Abstract

We are all aware of the advantages cooking or heating meals in a microwave oven can offer, but we may be less familiar with what this technology brings to the field of chemistry. This paper reviews the applications of microwaves in the chemical laboratory, including their use in undergraduate laboratory classes. We show that microwave ovens have successfully made the transition from kitchens to laboratories and the story continues. Perhaps the greatest impact of microwaves in the laboratory over the past 20 years has been in analytical chemistry, where rapid and efficient heating of samples in closed vessels or flow-through systems has revolutionized sample preparation methodology. The use of microwaves in extraction procedures before chromatographic analysis has sharply reduced the total analysis time and has allowed larger numbers of samples to be analyzed. More recently microwave technology has expanded into other branches of chemistry and is now being used in the relatively new field of combinatorial chemistry for fast preparation of large numbers of similar compounds.