Chiral Lewis acid catalysis in a visible light-triggered cycloaddition/rearrangement cascade†
Cascade (domino) reactions facilitate the formation of complex molecules from simple starting materials in a single operation. It was found that 1-naphthaldehyde derivatives can be converted to enantioenriched (82–96% ee) polycyclic benzoisochromenes via a cascade of ortho photocycloaddition and ensuing acid-catalysed rearrangement reactions. The cascade was initiated by irradiation with visible light (λ = 457 nm) and catalysed by a chiral AlBr3-activated 1,3,2-oxazaborolidine (14 examples, 65–93% yield). The absolute configuration of the products was elucidated by single crystal X-ray crystallography. Mechanistic experiments suggest that the ortho photocycloaddition occurs on the triplet hypersurface and that the chiral catalyst induces in this step the observed enantioselectivity.