Journal article

Direct amidation of esters with nitroarenes

Esters are one of the most common functional groups in natural and synthetic products, and the one-step conversion of the ester group into other functional groups is an attractive strategy in organic synthesis. Direct amidation of esters is particularly appealing due to the omnipresence of the amide moiety in biomolecules, fine chemicals, and drug candidates. However, efficient methods for direct amidation of unactivated esters are still lacking. Here we report nickel-catalysed reductive coupling of unactivated esters with nitroarenes to furnish in one step a wide range of amides bearing functional groups relevant to the development of drugs and agrochemicals. The method has been used to expedite the syntheses of bio-active molecules and natural products, as well as their post-synthetic modifications. Preliminary mechanistic study indicates a reaction pathway distinct from conventional amidation methods using anilines as nitrogen sources. The work provides a novel and efficient method for amide synthesis.

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