Radical reactions have found many applications in carbohydrate chemistry, especially in the construction of carbon–carbon bonds. The formation of carbon–heteroatom bonds has been less intensively studied. This mini-review will summarize the efforts to add heteroatom radicals to unsaturated carbohydrates like endo
-glycals. Starting from early examples, developed more than 50 years ago, the importance of such reactions for carbohydrate chemistry and recent applications will be discussed. After a short introduction, the mini-review is divided in sub-chapters according to the heteroatoms halogen, nitrogen, phosphorus, and sulfur. The mechanisms of radical generation by chemical or photochemical processes and the subsequent reactions of the radicals at the 1-position will be discussed. This mini-review cannot cover all aspects of heteroatom-centered radicals in carbohydrate chemistry, but should provide an overview of the various strategies and future perspectives.
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