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An overview of oxidative reactions promoted by N-heterocyclic carbene (NHC) metal complexes is presented. Rather than attempting to provide a comprehensive review, key systems and recent developments are laid out, with special attention given to mechanistic aspects. Specifically, O2 activation by metal carbene complexes is covered, followed by alcohol oxidation, Wacker-type reactions and oxidative cleavage of alkenes, and alkane as well as arene oxidations proceeding via C–H activation.

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