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Title: IPr# – highly hindered, broadly applicable N-heterocyclic carbenes
IPr (IPr = 1,3-bis(2,6-diisopropylphenyl)imidazol-2-ylidene) represents the most important NHC (NHC = N-heterocyclic carbene) ligand throughout the field of homogeneous catalysis. Herein, we report the synthesis, catalytic activity, and full structural and electronic characterization of novel, sterically-bulky, easily-accessible NHC ligands based on the hash peralkylation concept, including IPr#, Np# and BIAN-IPr#. The new ligands have been commercialized in collaboration with Millipore Sigma: IPr#HCl, 915653; Np#HCl; 915912; BIAN-IPr#HCl, 916420, enabling broad access of the academic and industrial researchers to new ligands for reaction optimization and screening. In particular, the synthesis of IPr# hinges upon cost-effective, modular alkylation of aniline, an industrial chemical that is available in bulk. The generality of this approach in ligand design is demonstrated through facile synthesis of BIAN-IPr# and Np#, two ligands that differ in steric properties and N-wingtip arrangement. The broad activity in various cross-coupling reactions in an array of N–C, O–C, C–Cl, C–Br, C–S and C–H bond cross-couplings is demonstrated. The evaluation of steric, electron-donating and π-accepting properties as well as coordination chemistry to Au( i ), Rh( i ) and Pd( ii ) is presented. Given the tremendous importance of NHC ligands in homogenous catalysis, we expect that this new class of NHCs will find rapid and widespread application.  more » « less
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Date Published:
Journal Name:
Chemical Science
Page Range / eLocation ID:
10583 to 10589
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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  1. Abstract

    The discovery of NHCs (NHC = N‐heterocyclic carbenes) as ancillary ligands in transition‐metal‐catalysis ranks as one of the most important developments in synthesis and catalysis. It is now well‐recognized that the strong σ‐donating properties of NHCs along with the ease of scaffold modification and a steric shielding of the N‐wingtip substituents around the metal center enable dramatic improvements in catalytic processes, including the discovery of reactions that are not possible using other ancillary ligands. In this context, although the classical NHCs based on imidazolylidene and imidazolinylidene ring systems are now well‐established, recently tremendous progress has been made in the development and catalytic applications of BIAN‐NHC (BIAN = bis(imino)acenaphthene) class of ligands. The enhanced reactivity of BIAN‐NHCs is a direct result of the combination of electronic and steric properties that collectively allow for a major expansion of the scope of catalytic processes that can be accomplished using NHCs. BIAN‐NHC ligands take advantage of (1) the stronger σ‐donation, (2) lower lying LUMO orbitals, (3) the presence of an extended π‐system, (4) the rigid backbone that pushes the N‐wingtip substituents closer to the metal center by buttressing effect, thus resulting in a significantly improved control of the catalytic center and enhanced air‐stability of BIAN‐NHC‐metal complexes at low oxidation state. Acenaphthoquinone as a precursor enables facile scaffold modification, including for the first time the high yielding synthesis of unsymmetrical NHCs with unique catalytic properties. Overall, this results in a highly attractive, easily accessible class of ligands that bring major advances and emerge as a leading practical alternative to classical NHCs in various aspects of catalysis, cross‐coupling and C−H activation endeavors.

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