Divergent rhodium-catalyzed electrochemical vinylic C-H annulation of acrylamides with alkynes.Nat Commun. 2021 02 10; 12(1):930.NC
α-Pyridones and α-pyrones are ubiquitous structural motifs found in natural products and biologically active small molecules. Here, we report an Rh-catalyzed electrochemical vinylic C-H annulation of acrylamides with alkynes, affording cyclic products in good to excellent yield. Divergent syntheses of α-pyridones and cyclic imidates are accomplished by employing N-phenyl acrylamides and N-tosyl acrylamides as substrates, respectively. Additionally, excellent regioselectivities are achieved when using unsymmetrical alkynes. This electrochemical process is environmentally benign compared to traditional transition metal-catalyzed C-H annulations because it avoids the use of stoichiometric metal oxidants. DFT calculations elucidated the reaction mechanism and origins of substituent-controlled chemoselectivity. The sequential C-H activation and alkyne insertion under rhodium catalysis leads to the seven-membered ring vinyl-rhodium intermediate. This intermediate undergoes either the classic neutral concerted reductive elimination to produce α-pyridones, or the ionic stepwise pathway to produce cyclic imidates.