• Gabriele Fumagalli

Student thesis: Phd


In the last decade photoredox catalysis has emerged as an important new tool for organic chemists. The especially mild conditions and the broad range of reactions accessible using this methodology had a beneficial effect on the exploitation of radical reactions on otherwise labile substrates. Herein we report our work in this fast developing area and our efforts into the double functionalisation of styrenoid double bonds. We disclosed a new methodology for the room temperature photoredox catalysed alkoxy- and amino-arylation of styrenes using diaryl iodonium tetrafluoroborates and diazonium salts as aryl radical precursors. This methodology allows the successful regioselective coupling of three disparate components together and can be expanded to a wide range of alcohol nucleophiles, nitriles and water in moderate to good yields. The mild conditions employed permit the effective reaction of electron-rich styrenes and the tolerance of halogen functionalities, thus opening the possibility to further molecular elaboration.We then moved to explore the possibility of oxymethylnitrilation of styrenes and of the sysnthesis of heterocyclic cores via internal trapping with a nucleophile. Pleasingly, we were able to develop a mild and general methodology for the methylnitrilation of styrenes using simple and cheap bromoacetonitrile and photoredox catalysis. Furthermore, the synthesis of tetrahydrofuran and dihydrofuran cores was achieved in a single step, allowing us to synthesise tricyclic cores, maintaining functionisable handles such as halogens and ester groups.Finally, we decided to explore the possibility to add an azide functionality. After extensive optimisation, we were pleased to discover reaction conditions allowing for a switchable reactivity: under light irradiation we could perform an azidation reaction followed by addition of a nucleophile of choice; excluding the light from the reaction conditions, we could perform a double azidation reaction. The mild reaction conditions ensured the previously observed tolerance of functional groups; furthermore, we used a more sustainable copper-based photoredox catalyst.
Date of Award31 Dec 2015
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorMichael Greaney (Supervisor) & David Leigh (Supervisor)


  • Photoredox Catalysis
  • Radical chemistry

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