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The organophosphorus esters are derived from their corresponding acids by reacting them with alcohols. Examples of organophosporus esters are phosphonates, RP(=O)(OR)2, which are esters of phosphonic acid, phosphinates, R2P(=O)(OR'), which are the esters of phosphinic acid, phosphonites, P(OR)2R', which are esters of phosphonous acid, and phosphinites, P(OR)R'2, which are esters of phosphinous acid.
In organic synthesis, phosphonates are used in the Horner-Wadsworth-Emmons reaction. Phosphonates are well known for their effective metal chelation properties, which find use in water softening. Phosphonates are used in water cooling, desalination systems, in oil fields to inhibit scale formation, and in reverse-osmosis systems as anti-scalants. In the textile industry, as well as in pulp and paper manufacturing, phosphonates serve as a peroxide-bleach stabilizer. In detergents, they play the role of a bleach stabilizer, chelating agent, and scale inhibitor. In the medical field, phosphonates are used to treat disorders associated with bone formation and as carriers for radionuclides in bone cancer treatment. For a review on the functionalization of metal oxides with organophosphonates to obtain hybrid materials, see: Boissezon, R., et al., Organophosphonates as anchoring agents onto metal oxide-based materials, RSC Adv., 2014,4, 35690-35707.
Some phosphonites are used as ligands in hydrocyanation processes. Some phosphinite complexes are used in the catalytic asymmetric hydrogenation of activated keto compounds. Phosphinate esters are used in organic chemistry to prepare other phosphorus compounds. The deprotonation and subsequent alkylation of various H-phosphinate esters is a route to the access of some GABA analogues.