Public Release: 

Revolutionary process to create ether from esters using metal catalysts

New method to enable new drugs for cancer, malaria

Waseda University


IMAGE: This is a better way to make diaryl ether. view more

Credit: Waseda University

Tokyo, Mar 3, 2017 -- A group of Waseda University researchers has developed a new process using palladium or nickel as a catalyst for removing carbon monoxide from esters to produce ethers. This innovation provides new opportunities for development of drugs to fight cancer, malaria and more.

The conventional method for producing diaryl ether uses an intermolecular cross-coupling reaction of aryl halides and phenols with a copper or palladium catalyst, but high cost and concerns about disposal of potentially hazardous halogenated waste have driven demand for a better method.

In this research, a nickel or palladium catalyst with an enabling diphosphine ligand successfully removed carbon monoxide from aromatic esters to synthesize diaryl ether. Using this innovative process, diaryl ethers can be produced from over 30 different kinds of aromatic esters, allowing a choice of more inexpensive and easily obtainable materials. The present reaction can also be conducted on a gram scale with excellent yield, all of which is expected to make a significant impact on development of new pharmaceuticals.


The group, including researchers from Nagoya University, published this research in the Journal of the American Chemical Society online on February 21.

Title: Decarbonylative Diaryl Ether Synthesis by Pd and Ni Catalysis Ryosuke Takise; Ryota Isshiki; Kei Muto; Kenichiro Itami; Junichiro Yamaguchi DOI: 10.1021/jacs.7b00049

About Waseda University

Waseda University is a leading private, non-profit institution of higher education based in central Tokyo, with over 50,000 students in 13 undergraduate and 21 graduate schools.

Founded in 1882, Waseda cherishes three guiding principles: academic independence, practical innovation and the education of enlightened citizens. Established to mold future leaders, Waseda continues to fulfill this mission, counting among its alumni seven prime ministers and countless other politicians, business leaders, journalists, diplomats, scholars, scientists, actors, writers, athletes and artists.

Waseda is number one in Japan in international activities, including number of incoming and outgoing study abroad students, with the broadest range of degree programs taught fully in English, and exchange partnerships with over 600 top institutions in 84 countries.

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