PerspectiveOrganic Chemistry

Streamlining amine synthesis

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Science  22 May 2015:
Vol. 348, Issue 6237, pp. 863-864
DOI: 10.1126/science.aab2812

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Amines, a collective name for compounds that contain one or more nitrogen atoms, and their derivatives make up the overwhelming majority of drug molecules and agrochemicals, as well as many compounds that are produced by plants and living organisms (i.e., natural products) (1, 2). Not surprisingly, organic chemists spend a considerable amount of time with the synthesis and late-stage functionalization of amines. On page 886 of this issue, Gui et al. (3) report a highly innovative iron-catalyzed cross-coupling of olefins with nitroarenes, both of which are readily available and inexpensive, to afford bulky secondary arylamines that are either very difficult to obtain or inaccessible with existing methods.