C–H Activation/Functionalization Catalyzed by Simple, Well-Defined Low-Valent Cobalt Complexes

A facile C–H activation and functionalization of aromatic imines is presented using low-valent cobalt catalysts. Using Co­(PMe3)4 as catalyst we have developed an efficient and simple protocol for the C–H/hydroarylation of alkynes with an anti selectivity. Deuterium-labeling experiments, DFT calculations coupled with the use of a well-defined catalyst have for the first time shed light on the elusive black box of cobalt catalyzed C–H functionalization.