Herein, we report a photoexcited base-metal-catalyzed selective desaturation of aliphatic amides and imides. The reaction is catalyzed by a base-metal cobalt complex under visible-light irradiation. This transformation can be efficiently processed at room temperature and enables the synthesis of valuable cyclic and acyclic enamides and enimides from abundant chemicals. Density functional theory (DFT) analysis, electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR), and UV–vis studies rationalized the discovered reactivity of the cobalt catalyst for the photochemical C(sp3)–H activation reaction. Finally, we demonstrated the potential of our process by scaling-up experiments using a continuous flow photoreactor.
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