A two-step synthetic sequence was developed for the undergraduate organic chemistry laboratory using vanillin as the starting material. The multi-step synthesis was designed to replace two traditional experiments teaching electrophilic aromatic substitution and carbon–carbon bond forming chemistries with greener transformations. Vanillin is iodinated using Oxone® and potassium iodide in refluxing water, and students are tasked with determining the position of aromatic substitution using 1H NMR spectroscopy. The tan, shiny, pleasant-smelling iodovanillin is subsequently used in an aqueous Suzuki-Miyaura reaction with para-methylphenylboronic acid; strategically chosen to afford a second instructive 1H NMR spectrum. Both conventional heating and microwave conditions can be employed for the palladium-catalyzed reaction. This synthetic sequence, successfully performed over multiple semesters by hundreds of students, models green chemistry principles through the use of a potentially renewable feedstock and safer reagents, the choice of water as a safer reaction solvent, and the employment of a catalytic reaction. Additionally, the sequence minimizes waste in teaching labs through use of an intermediate product.
- NMR spectroscopy
- Suzuki cross-coupling
- Undergraduate teaching laboratories
- aqueous reactions
- electrophilic aromatic substitution
- green curriculum