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J Am Chem Soc. 2012 Feb 22;134(7):3571-6. doi: 10.1021/ja211005g. Epub 2012 Feb 13.

Efficient anodic and direct phenol-arene C,C cross-coupling: the benign role of water or methanol.

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Kekulé Institute for Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Bonn, Gerhard-Domagk-Strasse 1, 53121 Bonn, Germany.


C,C cross-coupling reactions for the synthesis of nonsymmetrical biaryls represent one of the most significant transformations in contemporary organic chemistry. A variety of useful synthetic methods have been developed in recent decades, since nonsymmetrical biaryls play an evident role in natural product synthesis, as ligand systems in homogeneous catalysis and materials science. Transformation of simple arenes by direct C,H activation belongs to the cutting-edge strategies for creating biaryls; in particular the 2-fold C,H activation is of significant interest. However, in most examples very costly noble metal catalysts, ligand systems, and significant amount of waste-producing oxidants are required. Electrochemical procedures are considered as inherently "green" methods, because only electrons are required and therefore, no reagent waste is produced. Here, we report a metal-free electrochemical method for cross-coupling between phenols and arenes using boron-doped diamond (BDD) anodes in fluorinated media. Our sustainable approach requires no leaving functionalities. Employing water or methanol as mediator represents the key improvement for achieving nonsymmetrical biaryls with superb selectivity and synthetic attractive yields.

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