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Drawing Catalytic Power from Charge Separation: Stereoelectronic and Zwitterionic Assistance in the Au(I)-Catalyzed Bergman Cyclization

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journal contribution
posted on 10.02.2017, 00:00 authored by Gabriel dos Passos Gomes, Igor V. Alabugin
The synergy between bond formation and bond breaking that is typical for pericyclic reactions is lost in their mechanistic cousins, cycloaromatization reactions. In these reactions, exemplified by the Bergman cyclization (BC), two bonds are sacrificed to form a single bond, and the reaction progress is interrupted at the stage of a cyclic diradical intermediate. The catalytic power of Au­(I) in BC stems from a combination of two sources: stereoelectronic assistance of C–C bond formation (i.e., “LUMO umpolung”) and crossover from a diradical to a zwitterionic mechanism that takes advantage of the catalyst’s dual ability to stabilize both negative and positive charges. Not only does the synergy between the bond-forming and charge-delocalizing interactions lead to a dramatic (>hundred-billion-fold) acceleration, but the evolution of the two effects results in continuous reinforcement of the substrate/catalyst interaction along the cyclization path. This cooperativity converts the BC into the first example of an aborted [3,3] sigmatropic shift where the pericyclic “transition state” becomes the most stable species on the reaction hypersurface. Aborting the pericyclic path facilitates trapping of cyclic intermediate by a variety of further reactions and provides a foundation for the discovery of new modes of reactivity of polyunsaturated substrates. The application of distortion/interaction analysis allows us to quantify the increased affinity of Au-catalysts to the Bergman cyclization transition state as one of the key components of the large catalytic effect.