Open-Shell Fluorination of Alkyl Bromides: Unexpected Selectivity in a Silyl Radical-Mediated Chain Process

Gabrielle H. Lovett, Shuming Chen, Xiao Song Xue, K. N. Houk, David W.C. MacMillan

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We disclose a novel radical strategy for the fluorination of alkyl bromides via the merger of silyl radical-mediated halogen-atom abstraction and benzophenone photosensitization. Selectivity for halogen-atom abstraction from alkyl bromides is observed in the presence of an electrophilic fluorinating reagent containing a weak N-F bond despite the predicted favorability for Si-F bond formation. To probe this surprising selectivity, preliminary mechanistic and computational studies were conducted, revealing that a radical chain mechanism is operative in which kinetic selectivity for Si-Br abstraction dominates due to a combination of polar effects and halogen-atom polarizability in the transition state. This transition-metal-free fluorination protocol tolerates a broad range of functional groups, including alcohols, ketones, and aldehydes, which demonstrates the complementary nature of this strategy to existing fluorination technologies. This system has been extended to the generation of gem-difluorinated motifs which are commonly found in medicinal agents and agrochemicals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)20031-20036
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number51
StatePublished - Dec 26 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Catalysis
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry


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