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A cross-coupling reaction in organic chemistry is a reaction where two fragments are joined together with the aid of a metal catalyst. In one important reaction type, a main group organometallic compound of the type R-M (R = organic fragment, M = main group center) reacts with an organic halide of the type R'-X with formation of a new carbon-carbon bond in the product R-R'. Cross-coupling reaction are a subset of coupling reactions. It is often used in arylations.
The mechanism generally involves reductive elimination of the organic substituents R and R' on a metal complex of the type LnMR(R') (where L is some arbitrary spectator ligand). The crucial intermediate LnMR(R') is formed in a two step process from a low valence precursor Ln. The oxidative addition of an organic halide (RX) to LnM gives LnMR(X). Subsequently, the second partner undergoes transmetallation with a source of R'-. The final step is reductive elimination of the two coupling fragments to regenerate the catalyst and give the organic product. Unsaturated organic groups couple more easily in part because they add readily. The intermediates are also less prone to beta-hydride elimination.
Catalysts are often based on palladium, which is frequently selected due to high functional group tolerance. Organopalladium compounds are generally stable towards water and air. Palladium catalysts can be problematic for the pharmaceutical industry, which faces extensive regulation regarding heavy metals. Many pharmaceutical chemists attempt to use coupling reactions early in production to minimize metal traces in the product.Heterogeneous catalysts based on Pd are also well developed.
Copper-based catalysts are also common, especially for coupling involving heteroatom-C bonds.
Iron-, cobalt-, and nickel-based catalysts have been investigated.
The leaving group X in the organic partner is usually a halide, although triflate, tosylate and other pseudohalide have been used. Chloride is an ideal group due to the low cost of organochlorine compounds. Frequently, however, C-Cl bonds are too inert, and bromide or iodide leaving groups are required for acceptable rates. The main group metal in the organometallic partner usually is an electropositive element such as tin, zinc, silicon, or boron.
Many cross-couplings entail forming carbon-carbon bonds.
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