This work presents a modern spin on one of the oldest known Csp3–Csp3 bond forming reactions in synthetic chemistry: the Kolbe electrolysis. This reaction holds incredible promise for synthesis, yet its use has been near non-existent in mainstream organic synthesis. In contrast to the strongly oxidative electrolytic protocol employed traditionally since the 19th century, the present method utilizes in situ generated redox-active esters (RAEs) which are combined with a mildly reductive Ni-electrocatalytic cycle. It can be used to heterocouple 1o, 2o, and even certain 3o RAEs with a protocol reminiscent of amide bond formation in terms of simplicity. Due to its mild nature the reaction tolerates a range of functional groups, is scalable, and was strategically enlisted for the synthesis of 25 known compounds to reduce overall step-counts by 74%.
Spectra, procedures, graphical guides