C1-4 Alkylation of Aryl Bromides with Light Alkanes enabled by Metallaphotocatalysis in Flow

02 May 2024, Version 1
This content is a preprint and has not undergone peer review at the time of posting.


The homologous series of gaseous C1-4 alkanes represents one of the most abundant sources of short alkyl fragments. However, their application in synthetic organic chemistry is exceedingly rare due to the challenging C–H bond cleavage, which typically demands high temperatures and pressures, thereby limiting their utility in the construction of complex organic molecules. In particular, the formation of C(sp2)–C(sp3) bonds is crucial for constructing biologically active molecules, including pharmaceuticals and agrochemicals. In this study, we present the previously elusive coupling between gaseous alkanes and (hetero)aryl bromides, achieved through a combination of Hydrogen Atom Transfer (HAT) photocatalysis and nickel-catalyzed cross coupling at room temperature. Utilizing flow technology allowed us to conduct this novel coupling reaction with reduced reaction times and in a scalable fashion, rendering it practical for widespread adoption in both academia and industry. Density Functional Theory (DFT) calculations unveiled that the oxidative addition constitutes the rate-determining step, with the activation energy barrier increasing with smaller alkyl radicals. Furthermore, radical isomerization observed in propane and butane analogues could be attributed to the electronic properties of the bromoarene coupling partner, highlighting the crucial role of oxidative addition in the observed selectivity of this transformation.


light alkanes
cross coupling
nickel catalysis
flow chemistry

Supplementary materials

experimental details, DFT analysis, spectroscopic analysis


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