A leap forward in iridium–NHC catalysis: new horizons and mechanistic insights
This review summarises the most recent advances in Ir–NHC catalysis while revisiting all the classical reactions in which this type of catalyst has proved to be active. The influence of the ligand system and, in particular, the impact of the NHC ligand on the activity and selectivity of the reaction have been analysed, accompanied by an examination of the great variety of catalytic cycles hitherto reported. The reaction mechanisms so far proposed are described and commented on for each individual process. Moreover, some general considerations that attempt to explain the influence of the NHC from a mechanistic viewpoint are presented at the end of the review. The first sections are dedicated to the most widely explored reactions that use Ir–NHCs, i.e., hydrogenation and transfer hydrogenation, for which a general overview that tries to compile all the Ir–NHC catalysts hitherto reported for these processes is provided. The next sections deal with hydrogen borrowing, hydrosilylation, water splitting, dehydrogenation (of alcohols, alkanes, aminoboranes and formic acid), hydrogen isotope exchange (HIE), signal amplification by reversible exchange and C–H bond functionalisation (silylation and borylation). The last section compiles a series of reactions somewhat less explored for Ir–NHC catalysts that include the hydroalkynylation of imines, hydroamination, diboration of olefins, hydrolysis and methanolysis of silanes, arylation of aldehydes with boronic acids, addition of aroyl chlorides to alkynes, visible light driven reactions, isomerisation of alkenes, asymmetric intramolecular allylic amination and reactions that employ heterometallic catalysts containing at least one Ir–NHC unit.