Light-Driven Deracemization Enabled by Excited-State Electron Transfer

A new strategy for catalytic deracemization is presented, wherein amine derivatives undergo spontaneous optical enrichment upon exposure to visible light in the presence of three distinct molecular catalysts. Initiated by an excited-state iridium chromophore, this reaction proceeds <i>via </i>a sequence of favorable electron, proton, and hydrogen atom transfer steps that serve to break and reform a stereogenic C–H bond. The enantioselectivity in these reactions is jointly determined by two independent stereoselective steps that occur in sequence within the catalytic cycle, giving rise to a composite selectivity that is higher than that of either step individually. These reactions represent a distinct and potentially general approach to creating out-of-equilibrium product distributions between substrate enantiomers using excited-state redox events.