Synthesis of Hydrophilic Phosphorus Ligands and Their Application in Aqueous‐Phase Metal‐Catalyzed Reactions

Thomas Schlatzer*, Rolf Breinbauer*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Transition metal-catalyzed reactions in aqueous media are experiencing a constant increase in interest. In homogenous catalysis the use of water as a solvent offers advantages in cost, safety, the possibility of two-phase catalysis and simplified separation strategies. In the life sciences, transition metal catalysis in aqueous systems enables the ligation or modification of biopolymers in buffer systems or even in their cellular environment. In biocatalysis, aqueous systems allow the simultaneous use of enzymes and transition metal catalysts in cascade reactions. The use of water-soluble phosphine ligands still represents the most reliable and popular strategy for transferring metal catalysts into the aqueous phase. This review summarizes the recent advancements in this field since 2009 and describes current synthetic strategies for the preparation of hydrophilic phosphines and phosphites. In addition, recent applications of transition metal catalysis in aqueous solvents using these hydrophilic ligands are presented. (Figure presented.).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)668 – 687
Number of pages20
JournalAdvanced Synthesis & Catalysis
Issue number3
Early online date11 Dec 2020
Publication statusPublished - 2 Feb 2021


  • Homogeneous catalysis
  • Ligand design
  • Phosphane ligands
  • Transition metals
  • Water chemistry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Organic Chemistry

Fields of Expertise

  • Human- & Biotechnology


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