Efficient access to unprotected primary amines by iron-catalyzed aminochlorination of alkenes

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Science  26 Oct 2018:
Vol. 362, Issue 6413, pp. 434-439
DOI: 10.1126/science.aat3863

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Salt and iron ease the way to amines

Adding nitrogen to carbon compounds is often a laborious process. The nitrogen typically needs protection to prevent undesired reactivity, and the protecting groups can be hard to remove afterward. Legnani et al. report a versatile method to add unadorned NH2 from a hydroxylamine derivative directly to a double-bonded carbon center. A simple iron catalyst manipulates chloride from table salt onto the adjacent carbon through a radical mechanism, where it is poised for a wide variety of further functionalization options.

Science, this issue p. 434


Primary amines are essential constituents of biologically active molecules and versatile intermediates in the synthesis of drugs and agrochemicals. However, their preparation from easily accessible alkenes remains challenging. Here, we report a general strategy to access primary amines from alkenes through an operationally simple iron-catalyzed aminochlorination reaction. A stable hydroxylamine derivative and benign sodium chloride act as the respective nitrogen and chlorine sources. The reaction proceeds at room temperature under air; tolerates a large scope of aliphatic and conjugated alkenes, including densely functionalized substrates; and provides excellent anti-Markovnikov regioselectivity with respect to the amino group. The reactivity of the 2-chloroalkylamine products, an understudied class of amphoteric molecules, enables facile access to linear or branched aliphatic amines, aziridines, aminonitriles, azido amines, and homoallylic amines.

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