On the Mechanism of Intermolecular Nitrogen-Atom Transfer from a Lattice-Isolated Diruthenium Nitride Intermediate
Catalyst confinement within microporous media provides the opportunity to site isolate reactive intermediates, enforce intermolecular functionalization chemistry by co-localizing reactive intermediates and substrates in molecular-scale interstices, and harness non-covalent host-guest interactions to achieve selectivities that are complementary to those accessible in solution. As part of an ongoing program to develop synthetically useful nitrogen-atom transfer (NAT) catalysts, we have demonstrated intermolecular benzylic amination of toluene at a Ru2 nitride intermediate confined within the interstices of a Ru2-based metal-organic framework (MOF), Ru3(btc)2X3 (btc = 1,3,5-benzenetricarboxylate, i.e., Ru-HKUST-1 for X = Cl). Nitride confinement within the extended MOF lattice enabled intermolecular C–H functionalization to benzylic C–H bonds in preference to nitride dimerization, which was encountered with soluble molecular analogues. Detailed study of the kinetic isotope effects (KIEs, i.e., kH/kD) of C–H amination, assayed both as intramolecular effects using partially labeled toluene and as intermolecular effects using a mixture of per-labeled and unlabeled toluene, provided evidence for restricted substrate mobility on the time scale of interstitial NAT. Analysis of these KIEs as a function of material mesoporosity provided approximate experimental values for functionalization in the absence of mass transport barriers. Here, we disclose a combined experimental and computational investigation of the mechanism of NAT from a Ru2 nitride to the C–H bond of toluene. Computed kinetic isotope effects for a H-atom abstraction (HAA) / radical rebound (RR) mechanism are in good agreement with experimental data obtained for C–H amination at the rapid diffusion limit. These results provide the first detailed analysis of the mechanism of intermolecular NAT to a C–H bond, bolster the use of KIEs as a probe of confinement effects on NAT within MOF lattices, and provide mechanistic insights unavailable by experiment because rate-determining mass transport obscured the underlying chemical kinetics.
- This article is part of the themed collection: Harnessing non-covalent interactions for synthesis and catalysis