The formation of carbon-carbon bonds by pinacol coupling of aldehydes and ketones requires a large negative reduction potential, often realized with a stoichiometric reducing reagent. Here, we use solvated electrons generated via a plasma-liquid process. Parametric studies with methyl-4-formylbenzoate reveal that selectivity over the competing reduction to the alcohol requires careful control over mass transport. The generality is demonstrated with benzaldehydes, benzyl ketones, and furfural. A reaction-diffusion model explains the observed kinetics, and ab initio calculations provide insight into the mechanism. This study opens the possibility of a metal-free, electrically-powered, sustainable method for reductive organic reactions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10470-10474
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number19
StatePublished - May 17 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Catalysis
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry


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