Reactant-induced photoactivation of in situ generated organogold intermediates leading to alkynylated indoles via Csp2-Csp cross-coupling

Nat Commun. 2022 Apr 28;13(1):2295. doi: 10.1038/s41467-022-29982-2.


Photosensitization of organogold intermediates is an emerging field in catalysis. In this context, an access to 2,3-disubstituted indoles from o-alkynyl aniline and iodoalkyne derivatives via a gold-catalyzed sequence under visible-light irradiation and in the absence of an exogenous photocatalyst was uncovered. A wide scope of the process is observed. Of note, 2-iodo-ynamides can be used as electrophiles in this cross-coupling reaction. The resulting N-alkynyl indoles lend themselves to post-functionalization affording valuable scaffolds, notably benzo[a]carbazoles. Mechanistic studies converge on the fact that a potassium sulfonyl amide generates emissive aggregates in the reaction medium. Static quenching of these aggregates by a vinylgold(I) intermediate yields to an excited state of the latter, which can react with an electrophile via oxidative addition and reductive elimination to forge the key C-C bond. This reactant-induced photoactivation of an organogold intermediate opens rich perspectives in the field of cross-coupling reactions.