A new catalytic system for N,N-dimethylamination of primary alcohols using aqueous dimethylamine in the absence of additional organic solvents has been developed. The reaction proceeds via borrowing hydrogen processes, which are atom-efficient and environmentally benign. An iridium catalyst bearing an N-heterocyclic carbene (NHC) ligand exhibited high performance, without showing any deactivation under aqueous conditions. In addition, valuable N,N-dimethylamine derivatives, including biologically active and pharmaceutical molecules, were synthesized. The practical application of this methodology was demonstrated by a gram-scale reaction.
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