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Metal‐Free Arylation of Benzothiophenes at C4 by Activation as their Benzothiophene S‐Oxides

Benzothiophenes, activated by oxidation to the corresponding S-oxides, undergo C-H/C-H-type coupling with phenols to give C4 arylation products. While an electron-withdrawing group at C3 of the benzothiophene is important, the process operates without a directing group and a metal catalyst, thus rendering it compatible with sensitive functionalities - e.g. halides and formyl groups. Quantum chemical calculations suggest a formal stepwise mechanism involving heterolytic cleavage of an aryloxysulfur species to give a π-complex of the corresponding benzothiophene and a phenoxonium cation. Subsequent addition of the phenoxonium cation to the C4 position of the benzothiophene is favored over the addition to C3; Fukui functions predict that the major regioisomer is formed at the more electron-rich position between C3 and C4. Varied selective manipulation of the benzothiophene products showcase the synthetic utility of the metal-free arylation process.

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