Alkene dialkylation by triple radical sorting

Johnny Z. Wang, William L. Lyon, David W.C. MacMillan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The development of bimolecular homolytic substitution (SH2) catalysis has expanded cross-coupling chemistries by enabling the selective combination of any primary radical with any secondary or tertiary radical through a radical sorting mechanism1–8. Biomimetic9,10 SH2 catalysis can be used to merge common feedstock chemicals—such as alcohols, acids and halides—in various permutations for the construction of a single C(sp3)–C(sp3) bond. The ability to sort these two distinct radicals across commercially available alkenes in a three-component manner would enable the simultaneous construction of two C(sp3)–C(sp3) bonds, greatly accelerating access to complex molecules and drug-like chemical space11. However, the simultaneous in situ formation of electrophilic and primary nucleophilic radicals in the presence of unactivated alkenes is problematic, typically leading to statistical radical recombination, hydrogen atom transfer, disproportionation and other deleterious pathways12,13. Here we report the use of bimolecular homolytic substitution catalysis to sort an electrophilic radical and a nucleophilic radical across an unactivated alkene. This reaction involves the in situ formation of three distinct radical species, which are then differentiated by size and electronics, allowing for regioselective formation of the desired dialkylated products. This work accelerates access to pharmaceutically relevant C(sp3)-rich molecules and defines a distinct mechanistic approach for alkene dialkylation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)104-109
Number of pages6
Issue number8006
StatePublished - Apr 4 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


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