Meerwein arylation

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"Meerwein reaction" redirects here. For other reactions named after Hans Meerwein, see Meerwein reaction (disambiguation).

The Meerwein arylation is an organic reaction involving the addition of an aryl diazonium salt (ArN2X) to an electron-poor alkene usually supported by a metal salt.[1] The reaction product is an alkylated arene compound. The reaction is named after Hans Meerwein, one of its inventors who first published it in 1939.

Meerwein arylation

An electron-withdrawing group (EWG) on the alkene makes it electron deficient and although the reaction mechanism is unclear,[2] involvement of an aryl radical is presumed after loss of nitrogen in the diazonium salt followed by a free radical addition. In the primary reaction product the intermediate alkyl radical is then captured by the diazonium counterion X which is usually a halogen or a tetrafluoroborate. In a subsequent step an elimination reaction liberates HX (for instance hydrochloric acid) and an aryl vinyl compound is formed. The reaction mechanism from the arene's view ranks as a radical-nucleophilic aromatic substitution.

In a general scope a Meerwein arylation is any reaction between an aryl radical and an alkene.[3] The initial intermediate is an aryl enthenyl radical which can react with many trapping reagents such as hydrogen or halogens or with those based on nitrogen or sulfur.


A reported reaction of alkene acrylic acid with an aryl diazonium salt and copper(I) bromide and hydrobromic acid yields the alpha bromo-carboxylic acid.[4] When the alkene is butadiene the initial reaction product with catalyst copper(II) chloride is a 4-chloro-2-butene and after an elimination the aryl substituted butadiene.[5] In a so-called reductive arylation with 3-buten-2-one, titanium trichloride reduces the newly formed double bond.[6]

In a novel kilogram-scale metal-free Meerwein arylation the diazonium salt is formed from 2-nitroaniline, the alkene isopropenyl acetate is an adduct of propene and acetic acid and the reaction product 2-nitrophenylacetone:[7]

Metal free meerwein arylation


  1. ^ Meerwein, H;, Buchner, E.; van Emsterk, K. J. Prakt. Chem. 1939, 152, 237.
  2. ^ Strategic Applications of Named Reactions in Organic Synthesis Laszlo Kurti, Barbara Czako Academic Press (4 March, 2005) ISBN 0-12-429785-4
  3. ^ Minireview Intermolecular Olefin Functionalisation Involving Aryl Radicals Generated from Arenediazonium Salts Markus R. Heinrich doi:10.1002/chem.200801306 Chemistry – A European Journal 2008 Volume 15 Issue 4, Pages 820–33
  4. ^ Benzenepropanoic acid, 4-acetyl-α-bromo- Organic Syntheses, Coll. Vol. 6, p. 21 (1988); Vol. 51, p. 1 (1971). Link
  5. ^ 1,3-Butadiene, 1-(p-nitrophenyl)- Organic Syntheses, Coll. Vol. 4, p. 727 (1963); Vol. 31, p. 80 (1951). Link
  6. ^ 2-Butanone, 4-(4-chlorophenyl)- Organic Syntheses, Coll. Vol. 7, p.105 (1990); Vol. 62, p.67 (1984) Link.
  7. ^ A Practical Synthesis of -Aryl Methyl Ketones via a Transition-Metal-Free Meerwein Arylation Carmela Molinaro, Jeffrey Mowat, Francis Gosselin, Paul D. O'Shea, Jean-François Marcoux, Rémy Angelaud, and Ian W. Davies J. Org. Chem.; 2007; 72(5) pp 1856 – 1858; (Note) doi:10.1021/jo062483g