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Benzoin is used as a flavor, antiseptic and photopolymerization catalyst. It is also used as a raw material in organic syntheses. It serves as a precursor to benzil, which is a photoinitiator. Further, it is used as degassing agent for powder coatings. In addition to this, it is used as an additive and in powder coating to remove the pinhole phenomenon.
Exclusive C-alkylation occurs with an alkyl bromide and NaOH in DMSO: Liebigs Ann. Chem., 735, 56 (1970). Borohydride reduction and periodate cleavage of the product lead to a useful synthesis of aryl ketones, with benzoin functioning as a benzoyl anion equivalent: Synthesis, 268 (1975):
This has been extended to include alkylation with other electrophiles including primary and secondary alkyl iodides and Michael acceptors, and the route shortened by direct cleavage of the alkylated benzoin with hydrogen peroxide: Synthesis, 36 (1980).
Zeng, H.; Wang, K.; Tian, Y.; Niu, Y.; Greene, L.; Hu, Z.; Lee, J. K. Reprint of The benzoin condensation: Charge tagging of the catalyst allows for tracking by mass spectrometry. Int. J. Mass Spectrom. 2015, 378, 169-174.
Alamgir, M.; Khuhawar, M. Y.; Memon, S. Q.; Hayat, A.; Zounr, R. A. Spectrofluorimetric analysis of famotidine in pharmaceutical preparations and biological fluids by derivatization with benzoin. Spectrochim. Acta, Part A 2015, 134, 449-452.