C-C and C-N bonds are some of the most common structures in molecules ranging from drugs to catalysts and to food additives. Many coupling reactions were developed to form these types of bonds with excellent selectivity and good performance. Still, the synthesis of some of those species either depends on traditional methods or requires expensive and rare reagents and catalysts. The use of precious metals in chemistry, and particularly in the industry, can make molecular synthesis expensive and energy-intensive since the extraction of those materials is costly. Moreover, in homogeneous catalysis, the recovery of metal-based catalysts is almost impossible, making these processes unsustainable for the future. Thus, the discovery of chemical reactions that donât involve precious materials is indispensable. This thesis concentrates on the development of two chemical transformations, one performing an sp2-sp3 radical reductive coupling, one performing a photocatalyzed alkyl amination, involving inexpensive reagents and catalysts.
The first chapter reviews the existing methodologies which use alkyl radicals to form carbon-carbon and carbon-nitrogen bonds. Alkyl radicals are formed from alkyl halides and pseudo-halides (Acids, esters, tosylates, etc.) via oxidation or reduction performed by metal or photoredox catalyst. The wide variety of available methodologies was illustrated, highlighting the advantages and weaknesses of each reaction.
The second chapter of this dissertation is devoted to the development of a new iron-based catalytic method to form stereoselectively Z-alkene boron species from the corresponding boron-alkyne. This novel stereoselective method opens a new way to obtain these types of molecules with cheap reagents, in high yields, with excellent stereoselectivity (Z:E ratio >10:1), and with good tolerance of functional group. The reaction is radical based, avoiding the problem of beta-hydride elimination, which usually occurs in ionic reactions involving metal centers. In order to prove the versatility of this method, the vinyl boron compound formed from this reaction was used for further functionalizations. The formal total synthesis of a 5-HT2c receptor agonist was successfully performed, improving the overall yield of the process, and avoiding the use of expensive and polluting chemicals.
The third chapter of this thesis is concentrated on the development of a tandem photoredox/metal base catalyzed functionalization of anilines and imines with alkyl carboxylic esters. In this reaction, no late transition metal is used, and the traditional metal-based photocatalyst is substituted with an inexpensive and more efficient organic dye. The alkylation of amines is a challenging topic in organic chemistry and classical nucleophilic substitution lacks selectivity and scope. Harvesting visible light with a photoredox catalyst opens the possibility to a radical pathway, making this coupling easy and with high tolerance for functional groups. In order to understand the catalytic cycle of the reaction, additional mechanistic studies were conducted, leading to some insight on how this reaction works.EPFL