Merging photoredox with nickel catalysis: Coupling of α-carboxyl sp3-carbons with aryl halides

Science  25 Jul 2014:
Vol. 345, Issue 6195, pp. 437-440
DOI: 10.1126/science.1255525

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A bright outlook for carbon coupling

In contemporary organic chemistry, it is straightforward to forge bonds between unsaturated carbons (i.e., carbons already engaged in double bonds) using cross-coupling catalysis. The protocol runs into some trouble, however, if one or both starting carbon centers are saturated (purely single-bonded). Tellis et al. and Zuo et al. independently found that combining a second, light-activated catalyst with a nickel cross-coupling catalyst could achieve selective coupling of saturated and unsaturated reagents (see the Perspective by Lloyd-Jones and Ball). Their methods rely on single-electron transfer from the light-activated catalyst to the saturated carbon, thereby enhancing its reactivity more effectively than the twoelectron mechanisms prevailing in traditional protocols.

Science, this issue p. 433, p. 437; see also p. 381


Over the past 40 years, transition metal catalysis has enabled bond formation between aryl and olefinic (sp2) carbons in a selective and predictable manner with high functional group tolerance. Couplings involving alkyl (sp3) carbons have proven more challenging. Here, we demonstrate that the synergistic combination of photoredox catalysis and nickel catalysis provides an alternative cross-coupling paradigm, in which simple and readily available organic molecules can be systematically used as coupling partners. By using this photoredox-metal catalysis approach, we have achieved a direct decarboxylative sp3–sp2 cross-coupling of amino acids, as well as α-O– or phenyl-substituted carboxylic acids, with aryl halides. Moreover, this mode of catalysis can be applied to direct cross-coupling of Embedded Image–H in dimethylaniline with aryl halides via C–H functionalization.

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