A CuI/CuIII prototypical organometallic mechanism for the deactivation of an active pincer-like CuI catalyst in Ullmann-type couplings†
Unraveling the mechanistic details of copper-catalyzed arylation of nucleophiles (Ullmann-type couplings) is a very challenging task. It is a matter of intense debate whether it is a radical-based process or an organometallic redox-based process. The ancillary ligand choice in Ullmann-type couplings plays a key role in such transformations and can strongly influence the catalytic efficiency as well as the mechanism. Here, we show how a predesigned tridentate pincer-like catalyst undergoes a deactivation pathway through a CuI/CuIII prototypical mechanism as demonstrated by helium-tagging infrared photodissociation (IRPD) spectroscopy and DFT studies, lending a strong support to the existence of an aryl–CuIII species in the Ullmann couplings using this tridentate ligand.