Synthetic chemistry with nitrous oxide

This review article summarizes efforts to use nitrous oxide (N2O, ‘laughing gas’) as a reagent in synthetic chemistry. The focus will be on reactions which are carried out in homogeneous solution under (relatively) mild conditions. First, the utilization of N2O as an oxidant is discussed. Due to the low intrinsic reactivity of N2O, selective oxidation reactions of highly reactive compounds are possible. Furthermore, it is shown that transition metal complexes can be used to catalyze oxidation reactions, in some cases with high turnover numbers. In the final part of this overview, the utilization of N2O as a building block for more complex molecules is discussed. It is shown that N2O can be used as an N-atom donor for the synthesis of interesting organic molecules such as triazenes and azo dyes.


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