Direct activation of strong bonds in readily available, benchtop substrates offer a straightforward simplification, albeit in most cases existing catalytic systems are limited to unlock such activation. In recent years, a surge of in-situ generated organic radicals that can act as potent photoinduced electron transfer (PET) agents have proved to be a powerful manifold for the activation of remarkably stable bonds. Herein we document the use of N,N′-di-n-propyl-1,13-dimethoxyquinacridine (nPr-DMQA•), an isolated and stable neutral helicene radical, as a highly photoreducing species. This isolable doublet state open shell radical offers a unique opportunity to shed light on the mechanism behind PET reactions of organic radicals. Experimental and spectroscopic studies revealed that this doublet radical has a long lifetime of 4.6 ± 0.2 ns, an estimated excited state oxidation potential of -3.31 V vs SCE, and can undergoes PET with organic substrates. The strongly photoreducing nature of the nPr-DMQA• was experimentally confirmed by the demonstration of photo activation of electron rich aryl bromides and chlorides. We further demonstrated that nPr-DMQA• can be photochemically generated from its cation analog (nPr-DMQA+) allowing catalytic functionalization of aryl halide via a consecutive photoexcitation mechanism (ConPET). Dehalogenation, photo-Arbuzov, photo-borylation and C-C bond formation reactions with aryl chlorides and bromides are reported herein, as well as the α-arylation of carbonyl using cyclic ketones. The latter transformation exhibits the facile synthesis of α-arylated cyclic ketones as critical feedstock chemical for diverse useful molecules, especially in the biomedical enterprises.
ESI for Isolated Neutral Helicene Radical Provides Insight into Consecutive Two-Photon Excitation Photocatalysis