Mild metal-catalyzed C–H activation: examples and concepts
Organic reactions that involve the direct functionalization of non-activated C–H bonds represent an attractive class of transformations which maximize atom- and step-economy, and simplify chemical synthesis. Due to the high stability of C–H bonds, these processes, however, have most often required harsh reaction conditions, which has drastically limited their use as tools for the synthesis of complex organic molecules. Following the increased understanding of mechanistic aspects of C–H activation gained over recent years, great strides have been taken to design and develop new protocols that proceed efficiently under mild conditions and duly benefit from improved functional group tolerance and selectivity. In this review, we present the current state of the art in this field and detail C–H activation transformations reported since 2011 that proceed either at or below ambient temperature, in the absence of strongly acidic or basic additives or without strong oxidants. Furthermore, by identifying and discussing the major strategies that have led to these improvements, we hope that this review will serve as a useful conceptual overview and inspire the next generation of mild C–H transformations.