Research ArticleChemistry

A new route to synthesize aryl acetates from carbonylation of aryl methyl ethers

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Science Advances  18 May 2018:
Vol. 4, no. 5, eaaq0266
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aaq0266

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Ether bond activation is very interesting because the synthesis of many valuable compounds involves conversion of ethers. Moreover, C–O bond cleavage is also very important for the transformation of biomass, especially lignin, which abundantly contains ether bonds. Developing efficient methods to activate aromatic ether bonds has attracted much attention. However, this is a challenge because of the inertness of aryl ether bonds. We proposed a new route to activate aryl methyl ether bonds and synthesize aryl acetates by carbonylation of aryl methyl ethers. The reaction could proceed over RhCl3 in the presence of LiI and LiBF4, and moderate to high yields of aryl acetates could be obtained from transformation of various aryl methyl ethers with different substituents. It was found that LiBF4 could assist LiI to cleave aryl methyl ether bonds effectively. The reaction mechanism was proposed by a combination of experimental and theoretical studies.

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