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Axial Coordination of NHC Ligands on Dirhodium(II) Complexes: Generation of a New Family of Catalysts

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posted on 06.06.2008, 00:00 by Alexandre F. Trindade, Pedro M. P. Gois, Luís F. Veiros, Vânia André, M. Teresa Duarte, Carlos A. M. Afonso, Stephen Caddick, F. Geoffrey N. Cloke
An efficient new methodology for the arylation of aldehydes is disclosed which uses dirhodium(II) catalysts and N-heterocyclic carbene (NHC) ligands. Complexes of Rh2(OAc)4 with one and two NHCs attached on the axial positions were successfully isolated, fully characterized, and used as catalysts in the reaction. The saturated monocomplex ((NHC 5)Rh2(OAc)4) 31 was shown to be the most active catalyst and was particularly efficient in the arylation of alkyl aldehydes. DFT calculations support participation of complexes with one axial NHC in the reaction as the catalysts active species and indicate that hydrogen bonds involving dirhodium unit, reactants, and solvent (alcohol) play an important role on the reaction mechanism.