Copper-Catalyzed Cyanation of Arenes

Acetonitrile is a common solvent in organometallic chemistry, and can coordinate to a metal center as a weak ligand. Due to its rather strong bond energy (133 kcal/mol), the acetonitrile C–CN bond cleavage mediated by transition metals has rarely been explored. If acetonitrile was able to act as a nitrile source via C–CN activation, this strategy would be of great interest for the development of new cyanation reactions avoiding highly toxic metal cyanides. In 2013, Professor Shen’s group reported an efficient and novel method for acetonitrile C–CN bond cleavage used for the aromatic C–H cyanation. Now they have designed and executed a new approach for the copper-catalyzed cyanation of simple arenes using acetonitriles as a cyano source via C–CN bond cleavage.

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