Organic super-electron-donors: initiators in transition metal-free haloarene-arene coupling

Sheng-Ze Zhou, Greg M Anderson, Bhaskar Mondal, Eswararao Doni, Vicki Ironmonger, Michael Kranz, Tell Tuttle, J A Murphy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

133 Citations (Scopus)
145 Downloads (Pure)


Recent papers report transition metal-free couplings of haloarenes to arenes to form biaryls, triggered by alkali metal tert-butoxides in the presence of various additives. These reactions proceed through radical intermediates, but understanding the origin of the radicals has been problematic. Electron transfer from a complex formed from potassium tert-butoxide with additives, such as phenanthroline, has been suggested to initiate the radical process. However, our computational results encouraged us to search for alternatives. We report that heterocycle-derived organic electron donors achieve the coupling reactions and these donors can form in situ in the above cases. We show that an electron transfer route can operate either with phenanthrolines as additives or using pyridine as solvent, and we propose new heterocyclic structures for the respective electron donors involved in these cases. In the absence of additives, and with appropriate substrates, the coupling reactions are still successful although more sluggish,, and benzynes are proposed to play crucial roles in the initiation process in these cases.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)476-482
Number of pages7
JournalChemical Science
Issue number2
Early online date9 Oct 2013
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2014


  • organic electron donors
  • haloarene-arene coupling
  • heterocyclic structures


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