Chain propagation determines the chemo- and regioselectivity of alkyl radical additions to C–O vs. C–C double bonds†
Investigations into the selectivity of intermolecular alkyl radical additions to C–O- vs. C–C-double bonds in α,β-unsaturated carbonyl compounds are described. Therefore, a photoredox-initiated radical chain reaction is explored, where the activation of the carbonyl-group through an in situ generated Lewis acid – originating from the substrate – enables the formation of either C–O or the C–C-addition products. α,β-Unsaturated aldehydes form selectively 1,2-, while esters and ketones form the corresponding 1,4-addition products exclusively. Computational studies lead to reason that this chemo- and regioselectivity is determined by the consecutive step, i.e. an electron transfer, after reversible radical addition, which eventually propagates the radical chain.