Johann Wilhelm Friedrich Adolf von Baeyer (1835–1917) and Victor Villiger (1868–1934): Peracid Oxidation of Ketones
This Name Reaction Biography presents the history of the Baeyer–Villiger reaction.
The reaction between ketones and peracids, now known as the Baeyer–Villiger reaction, was first reported by Adolf von Baeyer (1835–1917) and his student and collaborator, Victor Villiger (1868–1934) in 1899. Of the two men, von Baeyer is by far the better known, having won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1905. The Baeyer–Villiger reaction has been a valuable synthetic method for nearly a century and a quarter, and it should come as no surprise that the reaction has come under intense research directed at ‘greening’ the reaction.
The most recent research aimed at making the reaction enantioselective is being addressed by examining biocatalysis. Baeyer–Villiger monooxygenases (BVMO) are flavoprotein monooxygenases that have been widely exploited for carrying out the asymmetric Baeyer–Villiger oxidation (a Google Scholar search, in July 2020, for the period 2016–2020 returns over 460 hits). The enzyme structure and sequence have both been determined, and the enzyme has become a popular target for modification. Several reviews of the uses of these enzymes for asymmetric Baeyer–Villiger oxidations have been published since 2011.