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Intermolecular Radical Addition to Ketoacids Enabled by Boron Activation

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journal contribution
posted on 03.10.2019, 19:21 by Shasha Xie, Defang Li, Hanchu Huang, Fuyuan Zhang, Yiyun Chen
The intermolecular radical addition to the carbonyl group is difficult due to the facile fragmentation of the resulting alkoxyl radical. To date, the intermolecular radical addition to ketones, a valuable approach to construct quaternary carbon centers, remains a formidable synthetic challenge. Here, we report the first visible-light-induced intermolecular alkyl boronic acid addition to α-ketoacids enabled by the Lewis acid activation. The in situ boron complex formation is confirmed by various spectroscopic measurements and mechanistic probing experiments, which facilitates various alkyl boronic acid addition to the carbonyl group and prevents the cleavage of the newly formed C–C bond. Diversely substituted lactates can be synthesized from readily available alkyl boronic acids and ketoacids at room temperature merely under visible light irradiation, without any additional reagent. This boron activation approach can be extended to alkyl dihydropyridines as radical precursors with external boron reagents for primary, secondary, and tertiary alkyl radical additions. The pharmaceutically useful anticholinergic precursors are easily scaled up in multigrams under metal-free conditions in flow reactors.