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Syntheses and Structural Characterizations of Anionic Borane-Capped Ammonia Borane Oligomers: Evidence for Ammonia Borane H2 Release via a Base-Promoted Anionic Dehydropolymerization Mechanism

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posted on 26.10.2011, 00:00 by William C. Ewing, Allegra Marchione, Daniel W. Himmelberger, Patrick J. Carroll, Larry G. Sneddon
Studies of the activating effect of Verkade’s base, 2,8,9-triisobutyl-2,5,8,9-tetraaza-1-phosphabicyclo[3.3.3]undecane (VB), on the rate and extent of H2 release from ammonia borane (AB) have led to the syntheses and structural characterizations of three anionic aminoborane chain-growth products that provide direct support for anionic dehydropolymerization mechanistic steps in the initial stages of base-promoted AB H2 release reactions. The salt VBH+[H3BNH2BH2NH2BH3] (1) containing a linear five-membered anionic aminoborane chain was produced in 74% yield via the room-temperature reaction of a 3:1 AB/VB mixture in fluorobenzene solvent, while the branched and linear-chain seven-membered anionic aminoborane oligomers VBH+[HB(NH2BH3)3] (2a) and VBH+[H3BNH2BH2NH2BH2NH2BH3] (2b) were obtained from VB/AB reactions carried out at 50 °C for 5 days when the AB/VB ratio was increased to 4:1. X-ray crystal structure determinations confirmed that these compounds are the isoelectronic and isostructural analogues of the hydrocarbons n-pentane, 3-ethylpentane, and n-heptane, respectively. The structural determinations also revealed significant interionic B–H···H–N dihydrogen-bonding interactions in these anions that could enhance dehydrocoupling chain-growth reactions. Such mechanistic pathways for AB H2 release, involving the initial formation of the previously known [H3BNH2BH3] anion followed by sequential dehydrocoupling of B–H and H–N groups of growing borane-capped aminoborane anions with AB, are supported by the fact that 1 was observed to react with an additional AB equivalent to form 2a and 2b.