Hydrogenation of fluoroarenes: Direct access to all-cis-(multi)fluorinated cycloalkanes

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Science  01 Sep 2017:
Vol. 357, Issue 6354, pp. 908-912
DOI: 10.1126/science.aao0270

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Keeping all fluorines on the same side

Carbon-fluorine bonds are highly polarized, and this effect is magnified when several of them reside on the same face of a saturated ring. However, most existing fluorination methods have difficulty consistently producing this all-cis mutual configuration. Wiesenfeldt et al. used a rhodium catalyst in nonpolar solvent to add hydrogens selectively to just one face of a wide variety of flat fluoroarene rings, pushing all fluorines toward the other face. The reaction also pushed fluorine toward the same face as nitrogen and oxygen in heterocycles such as indole and benzofuran.

Science, this issue p. 908


All-cis-multifluorinated cycloalkanes exhibit intriguing electronic properties. In particular, they display extremely high dipole moments perpendicular to the aliphatic ring, making them highly desired motifs in material science. Very few such motifs have been prepared, as their syntheses require multistep sequences from diastereoselectively prefunctionalized precursors. Herein we report a synthetic strategy to access these valuable materials via the rhodium–cyclic (alkyl)(amino)carbene (CAAC)–catalyzed hydrogenation of readily available fluorinated arenes in hexane. This route enables the scalable single-step preparation of an abundance of multisubstituted and multifluorinated cycloalkanes, including all-cis-1,2,3,4,5,6-hexafluorocyclohexane as well as cis-configured fluorinated aliphatic heterocycles.

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