Ligand-Enabled Reactivity and Selectivity in a Synthetically Versatile Aryl C–H Olefination

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  26 Nov 2009:
DOI: 10.1126/science.1182512


The Mizoroki-Heck reaction, which couples aryl halides with olefins, has been widely used to stitch together the carbogenic cores of numerous complex organic molecules. Given that the position-selective introduction of a halide onto an arene is not always straightforward, direct olefination of aryl C–H bonds would obviate the inefficiencies associated with generating halide precursors or their equivalents; however, methods for carrying out such a reaction have suffered from narrow substrate scope and low positional selectivity. Here, we report an operationally simple, atom-economical, carboxylate-directed Pd(II)-catalyzed C–H olefination reaction with phenylacetic acid and 3-phenylpropionic acid substrates, using oxygen at atmospheric pressure as the oxidant. The positional selectivity can be tuned by introducing amino acid derivatives as ligands. We demonstrate the versatility of the method through direct elaboration of commercial drug scaffolds and efficient synthesis of 2-tetralone and naphthoic acid natural product cores.