Ma, L., Zhou, H., Xu, M., Hao, P., Kong, X., Duan, H.*
Chem. Sci. 2020, 12 (3), 938-945.
Replacing the sluggish oxygen evolution reaction (OER) with oxidation reactions for the synthesis of complex pharmaceutical molecules coupled with enhanced hydrogen evolution reaction (HER) is highly attractive, but it is rarely explored. Here, we report an electrochemical protocol for selective oxidation of sulfides to sulfoxides over a CoFe layered double hydroxide (CoFe-LDH) anode in an aqueous-MeCN electrolyte, coupled with 2-fold promoted cathodic H2 productivity. This protocol displays high activity (85–96% yields), catalyst stability (10 cycles), and generality (12 examples) in selective sulfide oxidation. We demonstrate its applicability in the synthesis of four important pharmaceutical related sulfoxide compounds with scalability (up to 1.79 g). X-ray spectroscopy investigations reveal that the CoFe-LDH material evolved into amorphous CoFe-oxyhydroxide under catalytic conditions. This work may pave the way towards sustainable organic synthesis of valuable pharmaceuticals coupled with H2 production.