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Dual Role of Doubly Reduced Arylboranes as Dihydrogen- and Hydride-Transfer Catalysts

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journal contribution
posted on 15.03.2019, 00:00 by Esther von Grotthuss, Sven E. Prey, Michael Bolte, Hans-Wolfram Lerner, Matthias Wagner
Doubly reduced 9,10-dihydro-9,10-diboraanthracenes (DBAs) are introduced as catalysts for hydrogenation as well as hydride-transfer reactions. The required alkali metal salts M2[DBA] are readily accessible from the respective neutral DBAs and Li metal, Na metal, or KC8. In the first step, the ambiphilic M2[DBA] activate H2 in a concerted, metal-like fashion. The rates of H2 activation strongly depend on the B-bonded substituents and the counter cations. Smaller substituents (e.g., H, Me) are superior to bulkier groups (e.g., Et, pTol), and a Mes substituent is even prohibitively large. Li+ ions, which form persistent contact ion pairs with [DBA]2–, slow the H2-addition rate to a higher extent than more weakly coordinating Na+/K+ ions. For the hydrogenation of unsaturated compounds, we identified Li2[4] (Me substituents at boron) as the best performing catalyst; its substrate scope encompasses Ph­(H)­CNtBu, Ph2CCH2, and anthracene. The conversion of E–Cl to E–H bonds (E = C, Si, Ge, P) was best achieved by using Na2[4]. The latter protocol provides facile access also to Me2Si­(H)­Cl, a most important silicone building block. Whereas the H2-transfer reaction regenerates the dianion [4]2– and is thus immediately catalytic, the H-transfer process releases the neutral 4, which has to be recharged by Na metal before it can enter the cycle again. To avoid Wurtz-type coupling of the substrate, the reduction of 4 must be performed in the absence of the element halide, which demands an alternating process management (similar to the industrial anthraquinone process).