Direct photo-induced reductive Heck cyclization of indoles for the efficient preparation of polycyclic indolinyl compounds
14. The photo-induced cleavage of C(sp2)–Cl bonds is an appealing synthetic tool in organic synthesis, but usually requires the use of high UV light, photocatalysts and/or photosensitizers. Herein is described a direct photo-induced chloroarene activation with UVA/blue LEDs that can be used in the reductive Heck cyclization of indoles and without the use of a photocatalyst or photosensitizer. The indole compounds examined display room-temperature phosphorescence. The photochemical reaction tolerates a panel of functional groups including esters, alcohols, amides, cyano and alkenes (27 examples, 50–88% yields), and can be used to prepare polycyclic compounds and perform the functionalization of natural product analogues in moderate to good yields. Mechanistic experiments, including time-resolved absorption spectroscopy, are supportive of photo-induced electron transfer between the indole substrate and DIPEA, with the formation of radical intermediates in the photoinduced dearomatization reaction. Chem. Sci., 2021, 12, 14050–14058. DOI: 10.1039/d1sc04258k.