A phosphine-free Mn(i)-NNS catalyst for asymmetric transfer hydrogenation of acetophenone: a theoretical prediction†
The density functional theory (DFT) method was employed to investigate the reaction mechanism of the hydrogen activation and asymmetric transfer hydrogenation (ATH) of acetophenone catalyzed by a well-defined phosphine-free Mn(I)-NNS complex. The calculation results indicate that the Mn-NNS complex has potential high catalytic hydrogenation activity. Meanwhile, the hydrogen transfer step of this reaction is proposed to be a concerted but asynchronous process, and the hydride transfer precedes proton transfer. This work also pointed out that the stereoselectivity of ATH catalyzed by the Mn(I)-NNS complex mainly originates from the noncovalent interaction between the substrate and the catalyst. Additionally, the catalytic activities of Mn-NNS complexes with different X ligands (X = CO, Cl, H, OMe, NCMe, CCMe, and CHCHMe) were compared, and the calculated total reaction energy barriers were all viable, which indicates that these Mn-NNS complexes show higher CO bond hydrogenation activity under mild conditions. This theoretical study predicts that the reactions catalyzed by complexes with H and NCMe ligands exhibit high stereoselectivity with enantiomeric excess (ee) values of 97% and 93%, respectively.