Ketyl radical reactivity via atom transfer catalysis

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Science  12 Oct 2018:
Vol. 362, Issue 6411, pp. 225-229
DOI: 10.1126/science.aau1777

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Iodine smooths the way to ketyl radicals

Chemists typically transform carbonyl compounds through polar two-electron reactions. It is also possible to pursue radical coupling strategies by adding just one electron to form a ketyl group. However, the strong reductant supplying that electron often limits the reaction's versatility. Wang et al. report a mild means of forming ketyls by first adding acetyl iodides across the C=O bond (see the Perspective by Blackburn and Roizen). A photoactivated manganese catalyst then temporarily pulls the iodine away, leaving a ketyl to couple with alkynes. The iodine then returns to one of the alkyne's carbons, stabilizing the product but remaining poised for further transformations.

Science, this issue p. 225; see also p. 157


Single-electron reduction of a carbonyl to a ketyl enables access to a polarity-reversed platform of reactivity for this cornerstone functional group. However, the synthetic utility of the ketyl radical is hindered by the strong reductants necessary for its generation, which also limit its reactivity to net reductive mechanisms. We report a strategy for net redox-neutral generation and reaction of ketyl radicals. The in situ conversion of aldehydes to α-acetoxy iodides lowers their reduction potential by more than 1 volt, allowing for milder access to the corresponding ketyl radicals and an oxidative termination event. Upon subjecting these iodides to a dimanganese decacarbonyl precatalyst and visible light irradiation, an atom transfer radical addition (ATRA) mechanism affords a broad scope of vinyl iodide products with high Z-selectivity.

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