Mimicking transition metals in borrowing hydrogen from alcohols


Borrowing hydrogen from alcohols, storing it on a catalyst and subsequent transfer of the hydrogen from the catalyst to an in situ generated imine is the hallmark of a transition metal mediated catalytic N-alkylation of amines. However, such a borrowing hydrogen mechanism with a transition metal free catalytic system which stores hydrogen molecules in the catalyst backbone is yet to be established. Herein, we demonstrate that a phenalenyl ligand can imitate the role of transition metals in storing and transferring hydrogen molecules leading to borrowing hydrogen mediated alkylation of anilines by alcohols including a wide range of substrate scope. A close inspection of the mechanistic pathway by characterizing several intermediates through various spectroscopic techniques, deuterium labelling experiments, and DFT study concluded that the phenalenyl radical based backbone sequentially adds H+, H˙ and an electron through a dearomatization process which are subsequently used as reducing equivalents to the C–N double bond in a catalytic fashion.

Funding source: SERB (DST), India (Grant No. EMR/2017/000772)
Countries: India

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