Biomimetic Oxidative Dimerization of Anodically Generated Stilbene Radical Cations: Effect of Aromatic Substitution on Product Distribution and Reaction Pathways

A systematic study of the electrochemical oxidation of 1,2-diarylalkenes was carried out with the focus on detailed product studies and variation of product type as a function of aromatic substitution. A reinvestigation of the electrochemical oxidation of 4,4′-dimethoxystilbene under various conditions was first carried out, and all products formed were fully characterized and quantitated. This was followed by a systematic investigation of the effect of aromatic substitution on the nature and distribution of the products. The aromatic substituents were found to fall into three main categories, viz., substrates in which the nature and position of the aromatic substituents gave rise to essentially the same products as 4,4′-dimethoxystilbene, for example, tetraaryltetrahydrofurans, dehydrotetralins, and aldehydes (<i>p</i>-MeO or <i>p</i>-NMe<sub>2</sub> on one ring and X on the other ring, where X = <i>o</i>-MeO or <i>p</i>-alkyl, or <i>m</i>- or <i>p</i>-EWG; e.g., 4-methoxy-4′-trifluoromethylstilbene); those that gave rise to a mixture of indanyl (or tetralinyl) acetamides and dehydrotetralins (or pallidols) (both or one ring substituted by alkyl groups, e.g., 4,4′-dimethylstilbene); and those where strategic placement of donor groups, such as OMe and OH, led to the formation of ampelopsin F and pallidol-type carbon skeletons (e.g., 4,3′,4′-trimethoxystilbene). Reaction pathways to rationalize the formation of the different products are presented.