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Trialkylphosphines are widely used as processing aides for a variety of common reactions employed by the pharmaceutical and fine chemical industries. These reactions include the Staudinger, Mitsunobu and Wittig reactions used for amine, ester and olefin synthesis. In addition, tertiary alkylphosphines are powerful reducing agents for disulfide reduction. Tertiary alkylphosphines are also used at a catalytic level in transformations such as the Baylis-Hillman and Rauhut-Currier reactions.
As opposed to triphenylphosphine, the alkyl derivatives generally provide faster kinetics, improved selectivity and ease of work-up. Alkylphosphines are marketed under the Solvay CYTOP® organophosphine.