The selective oxidation of C-H bonds and the use of O(2) as a stoichiometric oxidant represent two prominent challenges in organic chemistry. Copper(II) is a versatile oxidant, capable of promoting a wide range of oxidative coupling reactions initiated by single-electron transfer (SET) from electron-rich organic molecules. Many of these reactions can be rendered catalytic in Cu by employing molecular oxygen as a stoichiometric oxidant to regenerate the active copper(II) catalyst. Meanwhile, numerous other recently reported Cu-catalyzed C-H oxidation reactions feature substrates that are electron-deficient or appear unlikely to undergo single-electron transfer to copper(II). In some of these cases, evidence has been obtained for the involvement of organocopper(III) intermediates in the reaction mechanism. Organometallic C-H oxidation reactions of this type represent important new opportunities for the field of Cu-catalyzed aerobic oxidations.
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