Jump to main content
Jump to site search


Mechanistic studies on the N-alkylation of amines with alcohols catalysed by iridium(I) complexes with functionalised N-heterocyclic carbene ligands

Author affiliations

Abstract

Iridium(I) cyclooctadiene complexes featuring O- and N-donor functionalised NHC ligands efficiently catalyse the C–N coupling of amines with alcohols through a borrowing hydrogen mechanism. These catalysts have been applied for the N-alkylation of several aromatic and aliphatic primary amines with a range of alcohols including benzyl alcohol derivatives, straight-chain primary alcohols and secondary alcohols. The cationic complex [Ir(NCCH3)(cod){MeIm(2-methoxybenzyl)}]+ (cod = 1,5-cyclooctadiene, MeIm = 3-methylimidazol-2-ylidene) having a rigid O-donor wingtip exhibits the best catalytic performance for the N-alkylation of aniline with benzyl alcohol giving a quantitative conversion to N-benzylaniline in 3 h. Experimental and theoretical studies at the DFT level on the N-alkylation of aniline with benzyl alcohol catalysed by the model compound [IrCl(cod)(IMe)] (IMe = 1,3-dimethyl-imidazol-2-ylidene) support the participation of the iridium catalyst not only in the alcohol dehydrogenation and imine hydrogenation steps but also in the key step leading to the formation of the new C–N bond. Nucleophilic attack of an iridium-amido species generated in basic medium on the electrophilic aldehyde results in a hemiaminolate intermediate species from which the hemiaminal is released by alcoholysis. The free hemiaminal dehydrates to give the corresponding intermediate imine product that is hydrogenated by the iridium catalyst to the N-alkylated amine product. The iridium(I) complexes featuring functionalised NHC ligands are more active than [IrCl(cod)(IMe)] which highlights the positive influence of the functional group on the N-alkylation catalytic activity.

Graphical abstract: Mechanistic studies on the N-alkylation of amines with alcohols catalysed by iridium(i) complexes with functionalised N-heterocyclic carbene ligands

Back to tab navigation

Supplementary files

Publication details

The article was received on 06 Dec 2017, accepted on 29 Mar 2018 and first published on 02 Apr 2018


Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C7CY02488F
Citation: Catal. Sci. Technol., 2018, Advance Article
  •   Request permissions

    Mechanistic studies on the N-alkylation of amines with alcohols catalysed by iridium(I) complexes with functionalised N-heterocyclic carbene ligands

    M. V. Jiménez, J. Fernández-Tornos, M. González-Lainez, B. Sánchez-Page, F. J. Modrego, L. A. Oro and J. J. Pérez-Torrente, Catal. Sci. Technol., 2018, Advance Article , DOI: 10.1039/C7CY02488F

Search articles by author

Spotlight

Advertisements