Combinations of N-heterocyclic carbenes (NHCs) and fluoride salts of the iron-group metals (Fe, Co, and Ni) have been shown to be excellent catalysts for the cross-coupling reactions of aryl Grignard reagents (Ar1MgBr) with aryl and heteroaryl halides (Ar2X) to give unsymmetrical biaryls (Ar1-Ar2). Iron fluorides in combination with SIPr, a saturated NHC ligand, catalyze the biaryl cross-coupling between various aryl chlorides and aryl Grignard reagents in high yield and high selectivity. On the other hand, cobalt and nickel fluorides in combination with IPr, an unsaturated NHC ligand, exhibit interesting complementary reactivity in the coupling of aryl bromides or iodides; in contrast, with these substrates the iron catalysts show a lower selectivity. The formation of homocoupling byproducts is suppressed markedly to less than 5% in most cases by choosing the appropriate metal fluoride/NHC combination. The present catalyst combinations offer several synthetic advantages over existing methods: practical synthesis of a broad range of unsymmetrical biaryls without the use of palladium catalysts and phosphine ligands. On the basis of stoichiometric control experiments and theoretical studies, the origin of the unique catalytic effect of the fluoride counterion can be ascribed to the formation of a higher-valent heteroleptic metalate [Ar1MF2]MgBr as the key intermediate in our proposed catalytic cycle. First, stoichiometric control experiments revealed the stark differences in chemical reactivity between the metal fluorides and metal chlorides. Second, DFT calculations indicate that the initial reduction of di- or trivalent metal fluoride in the wake of transmetalation with PhMgCl is energetically unfavorable and that formation of a divalent heteroleptic metalate complex, [PhMF2]MgCl (M ) Fe, Co, Ni), is dominant in the metal fluoride system. The heteroleptic ate-complex serves as a key reactive intermediate, which undergoes oxidative addition with PhCl and releases the biaryl cross-coupling product Ph-Ph with reasonable energy barriers. The present crosscoupling reaction catalyzed by iron-group metal fluorides and an NHC ligand provides a highly selective and practical method for the synthesis of unsymmetrical biaryls as well as the opportunity to gain new mechanistic insights into the metal-catalyzed cross-coupling reactions.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- General Chemistry
- Colloid and Surface Chemistry