Barbier reaction

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Not to be confused with Barbier–Wieland degradation.
Barbier reaction
Named after Philippe Barbier
Reaction type Coupling reaction
RSC ontology ID RXNO:0000084
Barbier reaction with samarium(II) iodide

The Barbier reaction is an organic reaction between an alkyl halide and a carbonyl group as an electrophilic substrate in the presence of magnesium, aluminium, zinc, indium, tin or its salts. The reaction product is a primary, secondary or tertiary alcohol. The reaction is similar to the Grignard reaction but the crucial difference is that the Barbier reaction is a one-pot synthesis whereas a Grignard reagent is prepared separately before addition of the carbonyl compound.[1] Barbier reactions are nucleophilic addition reactions that usually take place with relatively inexpensive and water insensitive metals or metal compounds in contrast to Grignard reagents or organolithium reagents. For this reason it is possible in many cases to run the reaction in water which makes the procedure part of green chemistry. The Barbier reaction is named after Victor Grignard's teacher Philippe Barbier.


Examples of Barbier reactions are the reaction of propargylic bromide with butanal with zinc metal in water:[2]

Barbier reaction
With a substituted alkyne instead of a terminal alkyne the allene product is favoured

the intramolecular Barbier reaction with samarium(II) iodide:[3]

Barbier reaction

the reaction of an allyl bromide with formaldehyde in THF with indium powder:[4]

Barbier reaction
The Barbier reaction is accompanied by an allylic rearrangement to a terminal alkene

or another allyl bromide in a reaction with benzaldehyde and zinc powder in water:[5]

Barbier reaction
The observed diastereoselectivity for this reaction is erythro : threo = 83 : 17

Asymmetric Variants[edit]

The synthesis of (+)-aspicillin, starts first with a hydroboration, then transmetallation to zinc which can then do an addition into the aldehyde substituent.[6]

The total synthesis of (+)-aspicillin involves a Barbier reaction

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Barbier, P. (1899). "Synthèse du diéthylhepténol". Compt. Rend. 128: 110. 
  2. ^ Artur Jõgi & Uno Mäeorg (2001). "Zn Mediated Regioselective Barbier Reaction of Propargylic Bromides in THF/aq. NH4Cl Solution" (PDF). Molecules. 6 (12): 964–968. doi:10.3390/61200964. ISSN 1420-3049. 
  3. ^ Tore Skjæret & Tore Benneche (2001). "Preparation of oxo-substituted α-chloro ethers and their reaction with samarium diiodide". Arkivoc: KU–242A. 
  4. ^ George D. Bennett and Leo A. Paquette. "Methyl 3-(hydroxymethyl)-4-methyl-2-methylenepentanoate". Org. Synth. ; Coll. Vol., 10, p. 77 
  5. ^ Gary W. Breton; John H. Shugart; Christine A. Hughey; Brian P. Conrad; Suzanne M. Perala (2001). "Use of Cyclic Allylic Bromides in the Zinc–Mediated Aqueous Barbier–Grignard Reaction" (PDF). Molecules. 6 (8): 655–662. doi:10.3390/60800655. 
  6. ^ De Brabander,J;et al. Tetrahedron Letters, 1995, Vol. 36, No. 15, pp. 2607-2610