Qiongqiong Wan, Kaixiang Chen, Xin Dong, Xianqin Ruan, Prof. Hong Yi, Prof. Suming Chen.（陈素明、易红）
The Alternating current (AC) electrolysis is an emerging field in synthetic chemistry, however its mechanistic studies are challenged by the effective characterization of the elusive intermediate processes. Herein, we develop an operando electrochemical mass spectrometry platform that allows time-resolved mapping of stepwise electrosynthetic reactive intermediates in both direct current and alternating current modes. By dissecting the key intermediate processes of electrochemical functionalization of arylamines, the unique reactivities of AC electrosynthesis, including minimizing the over-oxidation/reduction through the inverse process, and enabling effective reaction of short-lived intermediates generated by oxidation and reduction in paired electrolysis, were evidenced and verified. Notably, the controlled kinetics of reactive N-centered radical intermediates in multistep sequential AC electrosynthesis to minimize the competing reactions was discovered. Overall, this work provides direct evidence for the mechanism of AC electrolysis, and clarifies the underlying reasons for its high efficiency, which will benefit the rational design of AC electrosynthetic reactions.