A highly effective and operationally practical method for the regioselective deuteration of N-alkyl-substituted anilines employing Ru3(CO)12 (⩽1mol%) as catalyst and D2O as deuterium source was described. A variety of N-alkyl-substituted anilines were efficiently deuterated (up to 98%) at the ortho and/or para position with respect to the nitrogen at neutral conditions. Under the present conditions, deuterated anilines can be easily obtained with simple extraction and evaporation. Substituents with aromatic methoxy groups would not influence the selectivity compared to previous method.
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