Current electrochemical approaches to selective deuteration
The selective deuteration of organic molecules through electrochemistry is proving to be an effective alternative to conventional 2H labelling strategies, which traditionally require high temperatures, high pressures of deuterium gas in hydrothermal autoclave reactors, or require reagents capable of generating highly reactive species which are then quenched by a deuterium source. Such harsh conditions or reagents can consequently lower chemo- or regioselectivity in many deuteration processes. Transition metal catalysis and more recently photocatalysis have emerged as methods to access selectively deuterated compounds under significantly more mild conditions. Now, electrochemistry, which is increasingly becoming a mainstream synthetic tool, is primed to enter this space. Accordingly, this highlight will feature a selection of electrochemical deuteration methods developed in recent years, and propose where the use of electrosynthesis could access novel reactivity in the context of deuteration.