Highlights of Recent Group Publications
A general, modular method for the catalytic asymmetric synthesis of alkylboronate esters, Science 2016, 354, 1265–1269.
Alkylboron compounds are an important family of target molecules, serving as useful intermediates, as well as end points, in fields such as pharmaceutical science and organic chemistry. Facile transformation of carbon-boron bonds into a wide variety of carbon-X bonds (where X is, for example, carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, or a halogen), with stereochemical fidelity, renders the generation of enantioenriched alkylboronate esters a powerful tool in synthesis. Here we report the use of a chiral nickel catalyst to achieve stereoconvergent alkyl-alkyl couplings of readily available racemic α-haloboronates with organozinc reagents under mild conditions. We demonstrate that this method provides straightforward access to a diverse array of enantioenriched alkylboronate esters, in which boron is bound to a stereogenic carbon, and we highlight the utility of these compounds in synthesis.
Asymmetric copper-catalyzed C–N cross-couplings induced by visible light, Science 2016, 351, 681–684.
Despite a well-developed and growing body of work in copper catalysis, the potential of copper to serve as a photocatalyst remains underexplored. Here we describe a photoinduced copper-catalyzed method for coupling readily available racemic tertiary alkyl chloride electrophiles with amines to generate fully substituted stereocenters with high enantioselectivity. The reaction proceeds at –40°C under excitation by a blue light-emitting diode and benefits from the use of a single, Earth-abundant transition metal acting as both the photocatalyst and the source of asymmetric induction. An enantioconvergent mechanism transforms the racemic starting material into a single product enantiomer.
Photoinduced, Copper-Catalyzed Carbon–Carbon Bond Formation with Alkyl Electrophiles: Cyanation of Unactivated Secondary Alkyl Chlorides at Room Temperature, J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2015, 137, 13902–13907.
We have recently reported that, in the presence of light and a copper catalyst, nitrogen nucleophiles such as carbazoles and primary amides undergo C–N coupling with alkyl halides under mild conditions. In the present study, we establish that photoinduced, copper-catalyzed alkylation can also be applied to C–C bond formation, specifically, that the cyanation of unactivated secondary alkyl chlorides can be achieved at room temperature to afford nitriles, an important class of target molecules. Thus, in the presence of an inexpensive copper catalyst (CuI; no ligand coadditive) and a readily available light source (UVC compact fluorescent light bulb), a wide array of alkyl halides undergo cyanation in good yield.