[Nature Communications] Asymmetric Benzylic C(sp3)−H Acylation via Dual Nickel and Photoredox Catalysis
Abstract: Asymmetric C(sp3)−H functionalization is a persistent challenge in organic synthesis. Here, we report an asymmetric benzylic C−H acylation of alkylarenes employing carboxylic acids as acyl surrogates for the synthesis of α-aryl ketones via nickel and photoredox dual catalysis. This mild yet straightforward protocol transforms a diverse array of feedstock carboxylic acids and simple alkyl benzenes into highly valuable α-aryl ketones with high enantioselectivities. The utility of this method is showcased in the gram-scale synthesis and late-stage modification of medicinally relevant molecules. Mechanistic studies suggest a photocatalytically generated bromine radical can perform benzylic C−H cleavage to activate alkylarenes as nucleophilic coupling partners which can then engage in a nickel-catalyzed asymmetric acyl cross-coupling reaction. This bromine-radical-mediated C−H activation strategy can be also applied to the enantioselective coupling of alkylarenes with chloroformate for the synthesis of chiral α-aryl esters.