Topics in Catalysis

, Volume 61, Issue 7–8, pp 664–673 | Cite as

Organocatalyzed Decarboxylative Trifluoromethylation of β-Ketoacids

  • Rui Zhang
  • Chuanfa Ni
  • Zhengbiao He
  • Jinbo Hu
Original Paper


A new protocol has been developed for the synthesis of α-trifluoromethyl ketones via organocatalyzed decarboxylative trifluoromethylation of β-ketoacids with Togni’s reagent. Among various simple amine catalysts, primary amines and secondary amines were identified to be more effective than tertiary amines, with piperazine being the most effective. Mechanistic investigations suggested that the primary or secondary amine-catalyzed reactions proceed mainly through trifluoromethylation of an enamine intermediate, which is more effective than the tertiary amine-catalyzed pathway that involves an enol intermediate. By using piperazine as the optimal organocatalyst, various β-ketoacids, including the sterically hindered α,α-disubstituted ones, were converted into the corresponding α-trifluoromethyl ketones in good yields. This research not only provides a useful strategy for the efficient synthesis of a wide range of α-trifluoromethyl ketones under mild conditions, but also constitutes one of the few studies on decarboxylative alkylation of β-ketoacids, which can intrigue further exploitation on organocatalyzed asymmetric decarboxylative alkylation reactions.

Graphical Abstract


Organocatalysis Trifluoromethylation Carboxylic acids Decarboxylation β-Ketoacids α-Trifluoromethyl ketones Togni’s reagent Piperazine 



Support of our work by the National Basic Research Program of China (2015CB931900), the National Key Research and Development Program of China (2016YFB0101200 and 2016YFB0101204), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (21632009, 21472221, 21421002, 21402227, and 21372246), the Key Programs of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (KGZD-EW-T08), the Key Research Program of Frontier Sciences of CAS (QYZDJ-SSW-SLH049), Shanghai Academic Research Leader Program (15XD1504400), and the Youth Innovation Promotion Association CAS (2014231) is gratefully acknowledged.

Supplementary material

11244_2018_973_MOESM1_ESM.docx (1.3 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 1334 KB). Results for Cu(OAc)2-catalyzed decarboxylative trifluoromethylation of β-ketoacids 1; NMR spectra of compounds 3


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Organofluorine Chemistry, Center for Excellence in Molecular Synthesis, Shanghai Institute of Organic ChemistryUniversity of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Chinese Academy of SciencesShanghaiChina

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