American Chemical Society
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Mechanism of Boron-Catalyzed N‑Alkylation of Amines with Carboxylic Acids

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journal contribution
posted on 2016-07-21, 00:00 authored by Qi Zhang, Ming-Chen Fu, Hai-Zhu Yu, Yao Fu
Mechanistic study has been carried out on the B­(C6F5)3-catalyzed amine alkylation with carboxylic acid. The reaction includes acid-amine condensation and amide reduction steps. In condensation step, the catalyst-free mechanism is found to be more favorable than the B­(C6F5)3-catalyzed mechanism, because the automatic formation of the stable B­(C6F5)3-amine complex deactivates the catalyst in the latter case. Meanwhile, the catalyst-free condensation is constituted by nucleophilic attack and the indirect H2O-elimination (with acid acting as proton shuttle) steps. After that, the amide reduction undergoes a Lewis acid (B­(C6F5)3)-catalyzed mechanism rather than a Brønsted acid (B­(C6F5)3-coordinated HCOOH)-catalyzed one. The B­(C6F5)3)-catalyzed reduction includes twice silyl-hydride transfer steps, while the first silyl transfer is the rate-determining step of the overall alkylation catalytic cycle. The above condensation–reduction mechanism is supported by control experiments (on both temperature and substrates). Meanwhile, the predicted chemoselectivity is consistent with the predominant formation of the alkylation product (over disilyl acetal product).