The σ-amine-borane pincer complex [Rh(PONOP)(η1-H3B·NMe3)][BArF4] [2, PONOP = κ3-NC5H3-2,6-(OPtBu2)2] is prepared by addition of H3B·NMe3 to the dihydrogen precursor [Rh(PONOP)(η2-H2)][BArF4], 1. In a similar way the related H3B·NMe2H complex [Rh(PONOP)(η1-H3B·NMe2H)][BArF4], 3, can be made in situ, but this undergoes dehydrocoupling to reform 1 and give the aminoborane dimer [H2BNMe2]2. NMR studies on this system reveal an intermediate neutral hydride forms, Rh(PONOP)H, 4, that has been prepared independently. 1 is a competent catalyst (2 mol%, ∼30 min) for the dehydrocoupling of H3B·Me2H. Kinetic, mechanistic and computational studies point to the role of NMe2H in both forming the neutral hydride, via deprotonation of a σ-amine-borane complex and formation of aminoborane, and closing the catalytic cycle by reprotonation of the hydride by the thus-formed dimethyl ammonium [NMe2H2]+. Competitive processes involving the generation of boronium [H2B(NMe2H)2]+ are also discussed, but shown to be higher in energy. Off-cycle adducts between [NMe2H2]+ or [H2B(NMe2H)2]+ and amine-boranes are also discussed that act to modify the kinetics of dehydrocoupling.
- This article is part of the themed collections: Inorganic Reaction Mechanisms and Breaking bonds over many timescales: in celebration of Robin Perutz’s 70th birthday