A Simple, Multidimensional Approach to High-Throughput Discovery of Catalytic Reactions

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Science  09 Sep 2011:
Vol. 333, Issue 6048, pp. 1423-1427
DOI: 10.1126/science.1207922

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Transition metal complexes catalyze many important reactions that are employed in medicine, materials science, and energy production. Although high-throughput methods for the discovery of catalysts that would mirror related approaches for the discovery of medicinally active compounds have been the focus of much attention, these methods have not been sufficiently general or accessible to typical synthetic laboratories to be adopted widely. We report a method to evaluate a broad range of catalysts for potential coupling reactions with the use of simple laboratory equipment. Specifically, we screen an array of catalysts and ligands with a diverse mixture of substrates and then use mass spectrometry to identify reaction products that, by design, exceed the mass of any single substrate. With this method, we discovered a copper-catalyzed alkyne hydroamination and two nickel-catalyzed hydroarylation reactions, each of which displays excellent functional-group tolerance.

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