The Photocatalyzed Meerwein Arylation: Classic Reaction of Aryl Diazonium Salts in a New Light



The use of diazonium salts for aryl radical generation and C[BOND]H arylation processes has been known since 1896 when Pschorr first used the reaction for intramolecular cyclizations. Meerwein developed it further in the early 1900s into a general arylation method. However, this reaction could not compete with the transition-metal-mediated formation of C(sp2)[BOND]C(sp2) bonds. The replacement of the copper catalyst with iron and titanium compounds improved the situation, but the use of photocatalysis to induce the one-electron reduction and activation of the diazonium salts is even more advantageous. The first photocatalyzed Pschorr cyclization was published in 1984, and just last year a series of papers described applications of photocatalytic Meerwein arylations leading to aryl–alkene coupling products. In this Minireview we summarize the origins of this reaction and its scope and applications.