Applications of N-heterocyclic imines in main group chemistry
The imidazolin-2-imino group is an N-heterocyclic imino functionality that derives from the class of compounds known as guanidines. The exocyclic nitrogen atom preferably bonds to electrophiles and its electron-donating character is markedly enhanced by efficient delocalization of cationic charge density into the five-membered imidazoline ring. Thus, this imino group is an excellent choice for thermodynamic stabilization of electron-deficient species. Due to the variety of available imidazoline-based precursors to this ligand, its steric demand can be tailored to meet the requirements for kinetic stabilization of otherwise highly reactive species. Consequently, it does not come as a surprise that the imidazolin-2-iminato ligand has found widespread applications in transition-metal chemistry to furnish pincer complexes or “pogo stick” type compounds. In comparison, the field of main-group metal compounds of this ligand is still in its infancy; however, it has received growing attention in recent years. A considerable number of electron-poor main-group element species have been described today which are stabilized by N-heterocyclic iminato ligands. These include low-valent metal cations and species that are marked by formerly unknown bonding modes. In this article we provide an overview on the present chemistry of main-group element compounds of the imidazolin-2-iminato ligand, as well as selected examples for the related imidazolidin- and benzimidazolin-2-imino system.