PerspectiveOrganic Chemistry

Easy access to elusive radical reactions

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Science  12 Oct 2018:
Vol. 362, Issue 6411, pp. 157-158
DOI: 10.1126/science.aav0574

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Radical intermediates are molecules that form transiently during a reaction and bear an unpaired electron. Molecules containing an unpaired electron are often viewed as challenging to access under mild conditions and accordingly have been underexploited as synthetic intermediates. Chemists are now developing catalytic methods to facilitate access to versatile radical intermediates (1). Despite recent advances, some types of potentially useful radical intermediates remain difficult to engage. On page 225 of this issue, Wang et al. (2) report a new approach for accessing elusive ketyl radicals. They leverage an in situ masking strategy of alkyl aldehydes and unlock opportunities for electron-transfer or atom-transfer catalysis.