Abstract: 1.1 Introduction to Pd-catalyzed directed C–H functionalization
The development of methods for the direct conversion of carbon–hydrogen bonds into carbon-oxygen, carbon-halogen, carbon-nitrogen, carbon-sulfur, and carbon-carbon bonds remains a critical challenge in organic chemistry. Mild and selective transformations of this type will undoubtedly find widespread application across the chemical field, including in the synthesis of pharmaceuticals, natural products, agrochemicals, polymers, and feedstock commodity chemicals. Traditional approaches for the formation of such functional groups rely on pre-functionalized starting materials for both reactivity and selectivity. However, the requirement for installing a functional group prior to the desired C–O, C–X, C–N, C–S, or C–C bond adds costly chemical steps to the overall construction of a molecule. As such, circumventing this issue will not only improve atom economy but also increase the overall efficiency of multi-step synthetic sequences.
Direct C–H bond functionalization reactions are limited by two fundamental challenges: (i) the inert nature of most carbon-hydrogen bonds and (ii) the requirement to control site selectivity in molecules that contain diverse C–H groups. A multitude of studies have addressed the first challenge by demonstrating that transition metals can react with C–H bonds to produce C–M bonds in a process known as “C–H activation”.1 The resulting C–M bonds are far more reactive than their C–H counterparts, and in many cases they can be converted to new functional groups under mild conditions.
The second major challenge is achieving selective functionalization of a single C–H bond within a complex molecule. While several different strategies have been employed to address this issue, the most common (and the subject of the current review) involves the use of substrates that contain coordinating ligands. These ligands (often termed “directing groups”) bind to the metal center and selectively deliver the catalyst to a proximal C–H bond. Many different transition metals, including Ru, Rh, Pt, and Pd, undergo stoichiometric ligand-directed C–H activation reactions (also known as cyclometalation).2,3 Furthermore, over the past 15 years, a variety of catalytic carbon-carbon bond-forming processes have been developed that involve cyclometalation as a key step.1b–d,4
The current review will focus specifically on ligand-directed C–H functionalization reactions catalyzed by palladium. Palladium complexes are particularly attractive catalysts for such transformations for several reasons. First, ligand-directed C–H functionalization at Pd centers can be used to install many different types of bonds, including carbon-oxygen, carbon-halogen, carbon-nitrogen, carbon-sulfur, and carbon-carbon linkages. Few other catalysts allow such diverse bond constructions,5,6,7 and this versatility is predominantly the result of two key features: (i) the compatibility of many PdII catalysts with oxidants and (ii) the ability to selectively functionalize cyclopalladated intermediates. Second, palladium participates in cyclometalation with a wide variety of directing groups, and, unlike many other transition metals, promotes C–H activation at both sp2 and sp3 C–H sites. Finally, the vast majority of Pd-catalyzed directed C–H functionalization reactions can be performed in the presence of ambient air and moisture, making them exceptionally practical for applications in organic synthesis.
While several accounts have described recent advances, this is the first comprehensive review encompassing the large body of work in this field over the past 5 years (2004–2009). Both synthetic applications and mechanistic aspects of these transformations are discussed where appropriate, and the review is organized on the basis of the type of bond being formed.
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