Illuminating amination

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Science  17 Feb 2017:
Vol. 355, Issue 6326, pp. 690-691
DOI: 10.1126/science.aam6382

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Amines, molecules containing carbon-nitrogen (C–N) bonds, are among the most common and biologically important molecules in organic chemistry; 84% of small-molecule pharmaceuticals contain at least one C–N bond (1). Hydroamination, the direct addition of an N–H bond across a carbon-carbon double or triple bond, represents an ideal approach for the synthesis of amines (2). Despite extensive research over the past several decades, the efficient and direct intermolecular hydroamination of unactivated alkenes with anti-Markovnikov regio-selectivity (see the top panel of the figure) has remained a challenge. On page 727 of this issue, Musacchio et al. (3) report a photochemical strategy for creating reactive ammonium radical cations (ARCs) that can form these less stable isomers.