Understanding the mechanism of the chiral phosphoric acid-catalyzed aza-Cope rearrangement†
The first catalytic enantioselective aza-Cope rearrangement was reported in 2008 by Rueping et al. The reaction is catalyzed by a 1,1′-bi-2-naphthol-derived (BINOL-derived) phosphoric acid and achieved high yields and enantioselectivities (up to 97 : 3 er with 75% yield). This work utilizes Density Functional Theory to understand the mechanism of the reaction and explain the origins of the enantioselectivity. An extensive conformational search was carried out to explore the different activation modes by the catalyst and, the Transition State (TS) leading to the major product was found to be 1.3 kcal mol−1 lower in energy than the TS leading to the minor product. The origin of this stabilization was rationalized with NBO and NCI analysis: it was found that the major TS has a greater number of non-bonding interactions between the substrate and the catalyst, and shows stronger H-bond interactions between H atoms in the substrate and the O atoms in the phosphate group of the catalyst.
- This article is part of the themed collections: Celebrating our 2023 Prizewinners and Mechanistic, computational & physical organic chemistry in OBC