The photoactivation of electron donor-acceptor (EDA) complexes has emerged as a sustainable, selective and versa-tile strategy for the generation of radical species. However, when it comes to aryl radical formation, this strategy remains hamstrung by the electronic properties of the aromatic radical precursors and electron-deficient aryl halide acceptors are required. This has prevented the implementation of a general synthetic platform for aryl radical for-mation. Our study introduces triarylsulfonium salts as acceptors in photoactive EDA-complexes, used in combina-tion with catalytic amounts of newly-designed amine donors. The sulfonium salt label renders inconsequential the electronic features of the aryl radical precursor and, more importantly, it is installed regioselectively in native aro-matic compounds by C–H sulfenylation. Using this general, site-selective aromatic C–H functionalization approach, we have developed metal-free protocols for the alkylation and cyanation of arenes, and showcased their application in both the synthesis and the late-stage modification of pharmaceuticals and agrochemicals.
Supplementary Information - Part 1 - experimental details
Supplementary Information - Part 2 - NMR spectra