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Synthesis of branched “Markovnikov” alcohols is crucial to various chemical industries. The catalytic reduction of substituted epoxides under mild conditions is a highly attractive method for preparing such alcohols. Classical methods based on heterogeneous or homogeneous transition metal-catalyzed hydrogenation, hydroboration, or hydrosilylation usually suffer from poor selectivity, reverse regioselectivity, limited functional group compatibility, high cost, and/or low availability of the catalysts. Here we report the discovery of highly regioselective hydroboration of nonsymmetrical epoxides catalyzed by ligated archetypal reductants in organic chemistry ‒ alkali metal triethylborohydrides. The chemoselectivity and turnover efficiencies of the present catalytic approach are excellent. Thus, terminal and internal epoxides with ene, yne, aryl, and halo groups were selectively and quantitatively reduced under a substrate-to-catalyst ratio (S/C) of up to 1000. Mechanistic investigations point to a mechanism reminiscent of frustrated Lewis pair action on substrates in which a nucleophile and Lewis acid act cooperatively on the substrate.

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This article was originally published in iScience and can be accessed at

License: Creative Commons Attribution – NonCommercial – NoDerivs (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)

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