Transition metal-catalyzed allylic substitution reactions of pre-activated allylation agents with nucleophiles are extensively studied synthetic methods that have enjoyed widespread applications in organic synthesis. The direct alkylation of allylic C–H bonds with nucleophiles, which minimizes pre-functionalization and converts inexpensive, abundantly available materials to value-added alkenyl-substituted products, remains challenging. Current methods generally involve C–H activation, require the use of noble-metal catalysts and stoichiometric chemical oxidants, and often show limited scope. Here we report an electrocatalytic allylic C–H alkylation reaction with carbon nucleophiles employing an easily available cobalt-salen complex as the molecular catalyst. These C(sp3)–H/C(sp3)–H cross-coupling reactions proceed through H2 evolution and require no external chemical oxidants. Importantly, the mild conditions and radical mechanism ensure excellent functional group tolerance and substrate compatibility with both linear and branched terminal alkenes. The synthetic utility of the electrochemical method is highlighted by its scalability (up to 200 mmol scale) and its successful application in the late-stage functionalization of complex structures.
Dual-functional cobalt catalyst enables electrocatalytic allylic C–H alkylation