Diazaphosphinyl radical-catalyzed deoxygenation of α-carboxy ketones: a new protocol for chemo-selective C–O bond scission via mechanism regulation†
C–O bond cleavage is often a key process in defunctionalization of organic compounds as well as in degradation of natural polymers. However, it seldom occurs regioselectively for different types of C–O bonds under metal-free mild conditions. Here we report a facile chemo-selective cleavage of the α-C–O bonds in α-carboxy ketones by commercially available pinacolborane under the catalysis of diazaphosphinane based on a mechanism switch strategy. This new reaction features high efficiency, low cost and good group-tolerance, and is also amenable to catalytic deprotection of desyl-protected carboxylic acids and amino acids. Mechanistic studies indicated an electron-transfer-initiated radical process, underlining two crucial steps: (1) the initiator azodiisobutyronitrile switches originally hydridic reduction to kinetically more accessible electron reduction; and (2) the catalytic phosphorus species upconverts weakly reducing pinacolborane into strongly reducing diazaphosphinane.