Richard Heck – discoverer of Heck chemical reaction

Richard Heck – discoverer of Heck chemical reaction

Category : Personalities
Published by : Data Research Analyst, Worldofchemicals.com

Biography & Contributions

Richard Heck [Richard Fred Heck] is an American chemist and Nobel laureate born on August 15, 1931. Heck is noted for the discovery and development of the Heck reaction, which uses palladium to catalyze organic chemical reactions that couple aryl halides with alkenes.

Heck shared Nobel Prize in Chemistry in the year 2010, with the Japanese chemists Ei-ichi Negishi and Akira Suzuki, for their work in palladium-catalyzed coupling reactions in organic synthesis.

He was the first chemist to explain the co-catalyzed hydroformylation reaction, the mechanism which drives all catalytic organometallic reactions. Heck was the first to fully characterize a π-allyl metal complex, and the first to elucidate the mechanism of alkene hydroformylation.

Heck Reaction

Heck Reaction is the chemical reaction of an unsaturated halide (or triflate) with an alkene in the presence of a base and a palladium catalyst (or palladium nanomaterial-based catalyst) to form a substituted alkene.

Catalysts used in this reaction includes

  • Tetrakis(triphenylphosphine)palladium(0)
  • Palladium chloride
  • Palladium(II) acetate

Heck Reaction was the first example of a carbon-carbon bond-forming reaction that followed a Pd(0)/Pd(II) catalytic cycle, the same catalytic cycle that is seen in other Pd(0)-catalyzed cross-coupling reactions. The Heck reaction is of great importance, as it allows one to do substitution reactions on planar sp2-hybridized carbon centers.

Hydroformylation Reaction

Hydroformylation is an important homogeneously catalyzed industrial process for the production of aldehydes from alkenes.Hydroformylation is also used in specialty chemicals, relevant to the organic synthesis of fragrances and natural products.

It is important because the resulting aldehydes are easily converted into many secondary products. For example, the resulting aldehydes are hydrogenated to alcohols that are converted to plasticizers or detergents.

Hydroformylation reaction begins with the generation of coordinatively unsaturated metal hydrido carbonyl complex such as HCo(CO)3 and HRh(CO)(PPh3)3. These complexes bind alkenes, and the resulting complex undergoes a migratory insertion reaction to form an alkyl complex.

Palladium Metal


Palladium is a rare and lustrous silvery-white metal. Palladium is also used in electronics, dentistry, medicine, hydrogen purification, chemical applications, groundwater treatment and jewelry.Palladium plays a key role in the technology used for fuel cells, which combine hydrogen and oxygen to produce electricity, heat, and water.

It is the least dense and has the lowest melting point of the platinum group metals. It is soft and ductile when annealed and greatly increases its strength and hardness when it is cold-worked.

Palladium is also used in jewelry, dentistry, watch making, blood sugar test strips, and aircraft spark plugs and in the production of surgical instruments and electrical contacts. Palladium is also used to make professional transverse flutes.

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