Tritiation, the introduction of 3H into molecules, is an important tool to label and study the behaviour and properties of bioactive molecules in an animal or organism. Here, Tobias Ritter and colleagues report a Pd-catalyzed process for selectively introducing both 3H and deuterium, 2H, into aromatic organic compounds. This approach uses tritium gas, which is less toxic and of higher isotopic purity than the more commonly-used tritiated water. It makes use of aryl thianthrenium salts, overcoming a key limitation of the common aryl halide electrophiles, which are incompatible with dihydrogen.
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