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Gold-Aluminyl and Gold-Diarylboryl Complexes: Bonding and Reactivity with Carbon Dioxide

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journal contribution
posted on 05.05.2022, 22:06 by Diego Sorbelli, Elisa Rossi, Remco W.A. Havenith, Johannes E.M.N. Klein, Leonardo Belpassi, Paola Belanzoni
The unconventional carbon dioxide insertion reaction of a gold-aluminyl [tBu3PAuAl­(NON)] complex has been recently shown to be related to the electron-sharing character of the Au–Al bond that acts as a nucleophile and stabilizes the insertion product through a radical-like behavior. Since a gold-diarylboryl [IPrAuB­(o-tol)2] complex with similar reactivity features has been recently reported, in this work we computationally investigate the reaction of carbon dioxide with [LAuX] (L = phosphine, N-heterocyclic carbene (NHC); X = Al­(NON), B­(o-tol)2) complexes to get insights into the Al/B anionic and gold ancillary ligand effects on the Au–Al/B bond nature, electronic structure, and reactivity of these compounds. We demonstrate that the Au–Al and Au–B bonds possess a similar electron-sharing nature, with diarylboryl complexes displaying a slightly more polarized bond as Au­(δ+)–B­(δ). This feature reduces the radical-like reactivity toward CO2, and the Al/B anionic ligand effect is found to favor aluminyls over boryls, despite the greater oxophilicity of B. Remarkably, the ancillary ligand of gold has a negligible electronic trans effect on the Au–X bond and only a minor impact on the formation of the insertion product, which is slightly more stable with carbene ligands. Surprisingly, we find that the modification of the steric hindrance at the carbene site may exert a sizable control over the reaction, with more sterically hindered ligands thermodynamically disfavoring the formation of the CO2 insertion product.