Aryl amination using ligand-free Ni(II) salts and photoredox catalysis

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Science  15 Jul 2016:
Vol. 353, Issue 6296, pp. 279-283
DOI: 10.1126/science.aag0209

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A light approach to C-N bond formation

The need to form C-N bonds arises frequently in drug discovery research. One versatile approach involves the attachment of the C and N fragments to a Pd catalyst. This approach needs a bulky ligand to “crowd” the fragments together off the metal center. Corcoran et al. present a complementary approach that uses Ni in place of Pd. Instead of the bulky ligand, they used a light-activated cocatalyst that strips an electron from the Ni to accelerate the bond formation. A screen involving elaborately substituted reagents confirmed the utility of this approach in cases that challenge the traditional Pd coupling.

Science, this issue p. 279


Over the past two decades, there have been major developments in transition metal–catalyzed aminations of aryl halides to form anilines, a common structure found in drug agents, natural product isolates, and fine chemicals. Many of these approaches have enabled highly efficient and selective coupling through the design of specialized ligands, which facilitate reductive elimination from a destabilized metal center. We postulated that a general and complementary method for carbon–nitrogen bond formation could be developed through the destabilization of a metal amido complex via photoredox catalysis, thus providing an alternative approach to the use of structurally complex ligand systems. Here, we report the development of a distinct mechanistic paradigm for aryl amination using ligand-free nickel(II) salts, in which facile reductive elimination from the nickel metal center is induced via a photoredox-catalyzed electron-transfer event.

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