Organic Chemistry

Cobalt-Electrocatalytic Hydrogen Atom Transfer for Functionalization of Unsaturated C–C Bonds



The study and application of transition metal hydrides (TMH) has been an active area of chemical research since the early 1960’s. The use of TMHs has been broadly bifurcated into fields focused on energy storage through the reduction of protons to generate hydrogen and in organic synthesis for the functionalization of unsaturated C–C, C–O, and C–N bonds. In the former instance, electrochemical means for driving such reactivity has been commonplace since the 1950’s. In contrast, the use of stoichiometric exogenous organic and metal-based reductants to harness the power of TMHs in synthetic chemistry remains the norm. In particular, Co-based TMHs have found widespread use for the derivatization of olefins and alkynes in complex molecule construction, often via a net hydrogen atom transfer (HAT). Here, we show how an electrocatalytic approach inspired by decades of energy storage precedent can be leveraged in the context of modern organic synthesis. Such an approach not only offers benefits in terms of sustainability and efficiency but also enables enhanced chemoselectivity and unique and tunable reactivity. Ten different reaction manifolds across dozens of substrates are thus exemplified, along with a detailed mechanistic and computational analysis of this scalable electrochemical entry into Co-H chemistry.


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