π-face donation from the aromatic N-substituent of N-heterocyclic carbene ligands to metal and its role in catalysis
KAUST DepartmentBiological and Environmental Sciences and Engineering (BESE) Division
KAUST Catalysis Center (KCC)
Physical Sciences and Engineering (PSE) Division
Chemical Science Program
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AbstractIn this work, we calculate the redox potential in a series of Ir and Ru complexes bearing a N-heterocyclic carbene (NHC) ligand presenting different Y groups in the para position of the aromatic N-substituent. The calculated redox potentials excellently correlate with the experimental ΔE 1/2 potentials, offering a handle to rationalize the experimental findings. Analysis of the HOMO of the complexes before oxidation suggests that electron-donating Y groups destabilize the metal centered HOMO. Energy decomposition of the metal-NHC interaction indicates that electron-donating Y groups reinforce this interaction in the oxidized complexes. Analysis of the electron density in the reduced and oxidized states of representative complexes indicates a clear donation from the C ipso of the N-substituents to an empty d orbital on the metal. In case of the Ru complexes, this mechanism involves the Ru-alkylidene moiety. All of these results suggest that electron-donating Y groups render the aromatic N-substituent able to donate more density to electron-deficient metals through the C ipso atom. This conclusion suggests that electron-donating Y groups could stabilize higher oxidation states during catalysis. To test this hypothesis, we investigated the effect of differently donating Y groups in model reactions of Ru-catalyzed olefin metathesis and Pd-catalyzed C-C cross-coupling. Consistent with the experimental results, calculations indicate an easier reaction pathway if the N-substituent of the NHC ligand presents an electron-donating Y group. © 2012 American Chemical Society.
SponsorsThis project has been supported by the European Community (FP7 project CP-FP 211468-2 EUMET).
PublisherAmerican Chemical Society (ACS)