Development of Copper-Catalyzed Electrophilic Trifluoromethylation and Exploiting Cu/Cu2O Nanowires with Novel Catalytic Reactivity

  • Huaifeng Li

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This thesis is based on research in Cu-catalyzed electrophilic trifluoromethylation and exploiting Cu/Cu2O nanowires with novel catalytic reactivity for developing of catalytic and greener synthetic methods. A large number of biological active pharmaceuticals and agrochemicals contain fluorine substituents (-F) or trifluoromethyl groups (-CF3) because these moieties often result in profound changes of their physical, chemical, and biological properties, such as metabolic stability and lipophilicity. For this reason, the introduction of fluorine or trifluoromethyl groups into organic molecules has attracted intensive attention. Among them, transition metal-catalyzed trifluoromethylation reactions has proved to be an efficient and reliable strategy to construct carbon-fluorine (C-F) and carbontrifluoromethyl (C-CF3) bond. We have developed a catalytic process for the first time for trifluoromethylation of terminal alkynes with Togni’s reagent, affording trifluoromethylated acetylenes in good to excellent yields. The reaction is conducted at room temperature and exhibits tolerance to a range of functional groups. Derived from this discovery, the extension of work of copper catalyzed electrophilic trifluoromethylation were investigated which include the electrophilic trifluoromethylation of arylsulfinate salts and electrophilic trifluoromethylation of organotrifluoroborates. Because of growing environmental concern, the development of greener synthetic methods has drawn much attention. Nano-sized catalysts are environment-friendly and an attractive green alternative to the conventional homogeneous catalysts. The nano-sized catalysts can be easily separated from the reaction mixture due to their insolubility and thus they can be used recycled. Notably, because of the high reactivities of nano-sized metal catalysts, the use of ligands can be avoided and the catalysts loadings can be reduced greatly. Moreover, the nano-sized catalysts can increase the exposed surface area of the active component, thereby enhancing the contact between reactants and catalyst dramatically. Based on the above-mentioned concepts and with the aim of achieving one “green and sustainable” approach, C-S bond formation and click reactions catalyzed by Cu/Cu2O nanowires were investigated. It was found that the recyclable core-shell structured Cu/Cu2O nanowires could be applied as a highly reactive catalysts for the cross-coupling reaction between aryl iodides and the cycloaddition of terminal alkynes and azides under ligand-free conditions. Furthermore, these results were the first report for the crosscoupling reaction and click reaction catalyzed by one-dimensional (1D) copper nanowires.
Date of AwardJun 2014
Original languageEnglish (US)
Awarding Institution
  • Physical Sciences and Engineering
SupervisorKuo-Wei Huang (Supervisor)


  • Trifluoromethylation
  • copper catalysis
  • Nanowires

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