What is microwave heating?

Microwave Spectrum

Microwave energy is a form of electromagnetic energy. Its frequency can impact the realm of molecular rotations.

The electric field of a microwave heats matter through a phenomenon known as dielectric heating.
Dipole Rotation

As the electric field passes through a sample, energy is transferred to molecules through the mechanisms of dipole rotation and ionic conduction.

How is microwave heating useful in synthetic chemistry?

Microwave energy and glass vial

Glass is largely transparent to microwave energy, so, unlike traditional hotplates, reaction solutions are heated directly and volumetrically.
Rapid Heating and Cooling

Because microwave heating is so efficient, temperatures up to 300 °C can safely be reached in a matter of minutes.

A higher reaction temperature means a shorter reaction time. Most microwave reactions are done in as little as 10 minutes instead of 8 hours or overnight.

Why use a dedicated scientific microwave reactor?


REPRODUCIBILITY– Scientific journals require temperature, pressure, and power reporting for publication. Specially tuned cavities and electromagnetic stirring ensure consistent results between reactions.

FLEXIBILITY – Novel accessories allow for automation of reaction runs, use of gaseous reagents, flow chemistry, and many other types of transformations. Pressurized reactions with low boiling solvents allow more choices when determining ideal synthesis and work up conditions.


SAFETY – Industrial microwave reactors have the hardware and software to ensure a safe working environment, even at high temperatures and pressures, and long instrument life span.

What types of scientific microwave reactors are available?

Discover SP - Research Scale
MARS 6 Synthesis - Parallel/Scale-up

For further reading about microwaves and microwave chemistry

  • Academic Chemistry
  • Books
    • book_cover_.jpgPractical Functional Group Synthesis 

      Author: Robert A. Stockland, Jr.
      Publication Date: 2015

      A practical handbook for chemists performing bond forming reactions, this book features useful information on the synthesis of common functional groups in organic chemistry.

      • Details modern functional group synthesis through carbon-heteroelement (N, O, P, S, B, halogen) bond forming reactions with a focus on operational simplicity and sustainability.

      • Summarizes key and recent developments – which are otherwise scattered across journal literature – into a single source

      • Contains over 100 detailed preparations of common functional groups

      • Included 25 troubleshooting guides with suggestions and potential solutions to common problems.

      • Complements the text in enhanced ebook editions with tutorial videos where the author provides an introduction to microwave assisted chemistry.
      Click here to order
    • 3527331972.jpgMicrowaves in Nanoparticle Synthesis: Fundamentals and Applications

      Editors: Satoshi Horikoshi & Nick Serpone
      Publication Date: 2013

      For the first time, this comprehensive handbook presents the emerging field of microwave technology for the synthesis of nanoparticles. Divided into three parts - fundamentals, methods, and applications - it covers topics including microwave theory, scale-up, microwave plasma synthesis, characterization, and more.  This offers both an important volume for academic researchers, and a resource for those in industry exploring the applications of nanoparticles in semiconductors, electronics, catalysis, sensors, and more.
      Click here to order
    • 3527331166.jpgMicrowaves in Organic Synthesis, 2 Volume Set, 3rd Edition

      Editors: Antonio de la Hoz & Andre Loupy
      Publication Date: 2013

      The third edition of the bestselling two-volume reference covers everything you need to know about microwave technology for synthesis.  Completely revised an dupdated, this comprehensive work is clearly divided into four parts on the fundamentals, methodology, combination of enabling technologies, and applications.  Also new to this edition are chapters examining on-line monitoring, flow chemistry, combination with ultrasound and natural products (indluding multicomponent reactions.)  An indispensable source for organic, catalytic, physical, and medicinal chemists.
      Click here to order
    • 9781439812693.jpgMicrowave Heating as a Tool for Sustainable Chemistry

      Editor: Nicholas E. Leadbeater
      Publication Date: 2010

      Shorter reaction times, higher product yields, and enhanced selectivity are some of the advantages microwave headint has over conventional methods, chausing its use to transition from a curiosity to mainstream, both in industrial and academic swettings.  Microwave Heating as a tool for Sustainable Chemistry showcases the application of microwave heating in a number of areas of preparative chemistry as well as in the biosciences.
      Click here to order
    • book_cover_.jpgMicrowave Synthesis: Chemistry at the Speed of Light 

      Author: Brittany L. Hayes
      Publication Date: 2002

      In the first book ever written on microwave-assisted synthesis, Hayes explains the fundamentals of microwave theory, using microwave energy to perform organic synthesis, method development, and more. The book includes many charts and reactions, tips on choosing the right solvent, and optimizing reactions.  Contact your CEM representative to order
    • Química en microondas 

      By Rafeal Martínez Palou, PhD
      Publication Date: 2006
      (Only available in Spanish on CD)
      Dr. Martínez Palou discusses microwave theory, conventional versus microwave chemist, the benefits of using microwave energy to drive various chemical transformations, and more...
  • Application Notes
  • Microwave Applications