Journal article

Room temperature decarboxylative cyanation of carboxylic acids using photoredox catalysis and cyanobenziodoxolones: a divergent mechanism compared to alkynylation

The one-step conversion of aliphatic carboxylic acids to the corresponding nitriles has been accomplished via the merger of visible light mediated photoredox and cyanobenziodoxolones (CBX) reagents. The reaction proceeded in high yields with natural and non-natural alpha-amino and alpha-oxy acids, affording a broad scope of nitriles with excellent tolerance of the substituents in the alpha position. The direct cyanation of dipeptides and drug precursors was also achieved. The mechanism of the decarboxylative cyanation was investigated both computationally and experimentally and compared with the previously developed alkynylation reaction. Alkynylation was found to favor direct radical addition, whereas further oxidation by CBX to a carbocation and cyanide addition appeared more favorable for cyanation. A concerted mechanism is proposed for the reaction of radicals with EBX reagents, in contrast to the usually assumed addition elimination process.


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