Conversion of azides into diazo compounds in water

J Am Chem Soc. 2013 Oct 9;135(40):14936-9. doi: 10.1021/ja407822b. Epub 2013 Sep 27.


Diazo compounds are in widespread use in synthetic organic chemistry but have untapped potential in chemical biology. We report on the design and optimization of a phosphinoester that mediates the efficient conversion of azides into diazo compounds in phosphate buffer at neutral pH and room temperature. High yields are maintained in the presence of common nucleophilic or electrophilic functional groups, and reaction progress can be monitored by colorimetry. As azido groups are easy to install and maintain in biopolymers or their ligands, this new mode of azide reactivity could have substantial utility in chemical biology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Azides / chemistry*
  • Azo Compounds / chemistry*
  • Substrate Specificity
  • Water / chemistry*


  • Azides
  • Azo Compounds
  • Water