American Chemical Society
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Mechanistic Studies of Carbonyl Allylation Mediated by (NHC)CuH: Isoprene Insertion, Allylation, and β‑Hydride Elimination

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journal contribution
posted on 2022-12-16, 17:34 authored by Ba L. Tran, Jeremy D. Erickson, Amy L. Speelman, R. Morris Bullock
The ability of Cu–H complexes to undergo selective insertion of unsaturated hydrocarbons under mild conditions has rendered them valuable, versatile catalysts. The direct formation of Cu allyl intermediates from unfunctionalized 1,3-dienes and transient Cu hydrides is an appealing strategy for upgrading conjugated diene feedstocks. However, empirical mechanistic studies of the underlying elementary steps and characterization of key intermediates in Cu–H catalysis are sparse. Using [(NHC)CuH]2 (NHC = N-heterocyclic carbene), we examined the steric effects of NHC ligands on two key elementary steps of CuH-catalyzed carbonyl allylation: the insertion of a diene into the Cu–H bond to produce a Cu–allyl complex, and the formation of C–C bonds from stoichiometric allylations of ketones and aldehydes. The resulting allyl and homoallylic alkoxide complexes have been characterized by NMR spectroscopy and single-crystal X-ray diffraction. Employing isolable (NHC)Cu–allyl complexes, we further evaluated the roles of the ligand size, electronic properties of carbonyl substrates, coordinating groups within the substrate, and solvent on the regioselectivity, diastereoselectivity, and relative rate of the C–C bond formation step. In contrast to the clean allylation of ketones, allylation of aldehydes provided a rare example of a formal β-hydride elimination reaction from a secondary homoallylic alkoxide species. Mechanistic studies of key elementary steps provide insights for a range of catalytic reactions of dienes mediated by hydride complexes.