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A new atom efficient chemical synthesis of alpha-arylated carbonyl derivatives has been developed by Nuno Maulide and colleagues at the University of Vienna. An early serendipitous discovery revealed an unusual transformation of amides and the addition of an activating agent revealed that a reactive intermediate can be formed that undergoes a simple rearrangement. The team took advantage of the process to carry out an efficient acid-catalysed redox-arylation that precludes the need for a costly transition metal catalyst, the team reports.