Imines as acceptors and donors in N-heterocyclic carbene (NHC) organocatalysis
The synthetic potential of imines as electrophiles or as a source of nucleophilic coupling partner in N-heterocyclic carbene (NHC) catalysis for the synthesis of various nitrogen heterocycles and functionalized amines is highlighted in this Feature Article. Electrophilic imines are suitable candidates for intercepting the NHC-derived acyl anions, homoenolate equivalents, and (di)enolates for the synthesis of α-amino ketones and a variety of lactam derivatives. Moreover, enamines generated from imines bearing α-hydrogen could be trapped with α,β-unsaturated acylazoliums for the synthesis of functionalized dihydropyridinones. NHCs are also useful for the umpolung of imines for the generation of aza-Breslow intermediates thus leading to the synthesis of indoles, quinolines, dihydroquinoxalines etc. A concise account of the diverse reactivity of imines in NHC catalysis has been presented.