Organic Chemistry

Unveiling Extreme Photoreduction Potentials of Donor-Acceptor Cyanoarenes to Access Aryl Radicals from Aryl Chlorides


Since the seminal work of Zhang in 2016, donor-acceptor cyanoarene-based fluorophores, such as 1,2,3,5-tetrakis(carbazol-9-yl)-4,6-dicyanobenzene (4CzIPN), have been widely applied in photoredox catalysis, and used as excellent metal-free alternatives to noble metal Ir- and Ru-based photocatalysts. However, all the reported photoredox reactions involving this chromophore family are based on harnessing the energy from a single visible light photon, with a limited range of redox potentials from -1.92 V to +1.79 V. Here, we document the unprecedented discovery that this family of fluorophores can undergo consecutive photoinduced electron transfer (ConPET) to achieve very high reduction potentials. One of the newly synthesized catalysts, 2,4,5-tri(9H-carbazol-9-yl)-6-(ethyl(phenyl)amino)isophthalonitrile (3CzEPAIPN), possesses a long-lived (12.95 ns) excited radical anion form, 3CzEPAIPN*, which can be used to activate reductively recalcitrant aryl chlorides (Ered ≈ -1.9 to -2.9 V) under mild conditions. The resultant aryl radicals can be engaged in synthetically valuable aromatic C-B, C-P, and C-C bond formation to furnish arylboronates, arylphosphonium salts, arylphosphonates, and spirocyclic cyclohexadienes, respectively.


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Supplementary material

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supporting information