C-H BOND ACTIVATION: Regioselective ketone α-alkylation with simple olefins via dual activation

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Alkylation of carbonyl compounds is a commonly used carbon-carbon bond-forming reaction. However, the conventional enolate alkylation approach remains problematic due to lack of regioselectivity, risk of overalkylation, and the need for strongly basic conditions and expensive alkyl halide reagents. Here, we describe development of a ketone-alkylation strategy using simple olefins as the alkylating agents. This strategy employs a bifunctional catalyst comprising a secondary amine and a low-valent rhodium complex capable of activating ketones and olefins simultaneously. Both cyclic and acyclic ketones can be mono-α-alkylated with simple terminal olefins, such as ethylene, propylene, 1-hexene, and styrene, selectively at the less hindered site; a large number of functional groups are tolerated. The pH/redox neutral and byproduct-free nature of this dual-activation approach shows promise for large-scale syntheses.

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