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Maier, Martin S.; Huell, Katharina; Reynders, Martin; Matsuura, Bryan S.; Leippe, Philipp; Ko, Tongil; Schaeffer, Lukas and Trauner, Dirk (2019): Oxidative Approach Enables Efficient Access to Cyclic Azobenzenes. In: Journal of the American Chemical Society, Vol. 141, No. 43: pp. 17295-17304

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Azobenzenes are versatile photoswitches that have found widespread use in a variety of fields, ranging from photopharmacology to the material sciences. In addition to regular azobenzenes, the cyclic diazocines have recently emerged. Although diazocines have fascinating conformational and photophysical properties, their use has been limited by their synthetic accessibility. Herein, we present a general, high-yielding protocol that relies on the oxidative cyclization of dianilines. In combination with a modular substrate synthesis, it allows for rapid access to diversely functionalized diazocines on gram scales. Our work systematically explores substituent effects on the photoisomerization and thermal relaxation of diazocines. It will enable their incorporation into a wide variety of functional molecules, unlocking the full potential of these emerging photoswitches. The method can be applied to the synthesis of a new cyclic azobenzene with a nine-membered central ring and distinct properties.

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