Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Nature. 2013 Jul 11;499(7457):192-6. doi: 10.1038/nature12284.

Metal-free oxidation of aromatic carbon-hydrogen bonds through a reverse-rebound mechanism.

Author information

Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas 78712, USA.


Methods for carbon-hydrogen (C-H) bond oxidation have a fundamental role in synthetic organic chemistry, providing functionality that is required in the final target molecule or facilitating subsequent chemical transformations. Several approaches to oxidizing aliphatic C-H bonds have been described, drastically simplifying the synthesis of complex molecules. However, the selective oxidation of aromatic C-H bonds under mild conditions, especially in the context of substituted arenes with diverse functional groups, remains a challenge. The direct hydroxylation of arenes was initially achieved through the use of strong Brønsted or Lewis acids to mediate electrophilic aromatic substitution reactions with super-stoichiometric equivalents of oxidants, significantly limiting the scope of the reaction. Because the products of these reactions are more reactive than the starting materials, over-oxidation is frequently a competitive process. Transition-metal-catalysed C-H oxidation of arenes with or without directing groups has been developed, improving on the acid-mediated process; however, precious metals are required. Here we demonstrate that phthaloyl peroxide functions as a selective oxidant for the transformation of arenes to phenols under mild conditions. Although the reaction proceeds through a radical mechanism, aromatic C-H bonds are selectively oxidized in preference to activated Csp3-H bonds. Notably, a wide array of functional groups are compatible with this reaction, and this method is therefore well suited for late-stage transformations of advanced synthetic intermediates. Quantum mechanical calculations indicate that this transformation proceeds through a novel addition-abstraction mechanism, a kind of 'reverse-rebound' mechanism as distinct from the common oxygen-rebound mechanism observed for metal-oxo oxidants. These calculations also identify the origins of the experimentally observed aryl selectivity.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Nature Publishing Group
    Loading ...
    Support Center