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J Am Chem Soc. 2011 Apr 20;133(15):5913-20. doi: 10.1021/ja110224d. Epub 2011 Feb 22.

Radical chain reduction of alkylboron compounds with catechols.

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Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Bern, Freiestrasse 3, 3012 Bern, Switzerland.


The conversion of alkylboranes to the corresponding alkanes is classically per-formed via protonolysis of alkylboranes. This simple reaction requires the use of severe reaction conditions, that is, treatment with a carboxylic acid at high temperature (>150 °C). We report here a mild radical procedure for the transformation of organoboranes to alkanes. 4-tert-Butylcatechol, a well-established radical inhibitor and antioxidant, is acting as a source of hydrogen atoms. An efficient chain reaction is observed due to the exceptional reactivity of phenoxyl radicals toward alkylboranes. The reaction has been applied to a wide range of organoboron derivatives such as B-alkylcatecholboranes, trialkylboranes, pinacolboronates, and alkylboronic acids. Furthermore, the so far elusive rate constants for the hydrogen transfer between secondary alkyl radical and catechol derivatives have been experimentally determined. Interestingly, they are less than 1 order of magnitude slower than that of tin hydride at 80 °C, making catechols particularly attractive for a wide range of transformations involving C-C bond formation.

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