Bis- n -heterocyclic carbene (nhc) stabilized η6-arene iron(0) complexes: Synthesis, structure, reactivity, and catalytic activity

Burgert Blom, Gengwen Tan, Stephan Enthaler, Shigeyoshi Inoue, Jan Dirk Epping, Matthias Driess

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Reaction of FeCl2 with the chelating bis-N-heterocyclic carbene (NHC) bis-(N-Dipp-imidazole-2-ylidene)methylene (abbreviated {( DippC:)2CH2}) (Dipp = 2,6-di-isopropylphenyl) affords the complex [FeCl2{(DippC:)2CH 2}] (1) in high yield. Reduction of complex 1 with excess KC 8 with a 10-fold molar excess of PMe3 affords the Fe(II) complex [FeH{(DippC:)2CH2}(PMe 3)(η2-PMe2CH2)] (2) as a mixture of three stereoisomers. Complex 2, the first example of any iron(II) complex bearing mutually an NHC and PMe3 ligand, is likely obtained from the in situ, reductively generated 16 VE Fe(0) complex, [Fe{(DippC:) 2CH2}(PMe3)2] (2′), following intramolecular C-H activation of one of the phosphorus-bound CH3 groups. Complex 2 is unstable in aromatic solvents and forms, via a novel synthetic transformation involving intramolecular reductive elimination and concomitant PMe3 elimination, the Fe (0) arene complex [Fe{( DippC:)2CH2}(η6-C 6D6)] (4-d6) in C6D6. Complex 4-d6 represents the first example of an NHC stabilized iron (0) arene complex. The transformation from 2 to 4-d6 can be accelerated at higher temperature and at 60 C forms immediately. Alternatively, the reduction of 1 in the presence of toluene or benzene affords the complexes [Fe{(DippC:)2CH2}(η6-C 7H8)] (3) and [Fe{(DippC:)2CH 2}(η6-C6H6)] (4), selectively and in good yields. DFT calculations characterizing the bonding situation in 3 and 4 reveal similar energies of the HOMO and LUMO orbitals, with the LUMO orbital of both complexes located on the Dipp rings of the bis-NHC. The HOMO orbital reflects a π-back-bonding interaction between the Fe(0) center and the chelating NHC ligand, while the HOMO-1 is associated with the arene interaction with the Fe(0) site. The calculations do not suggest any noninnocence of the coordinated arene in either complex. Moreover, the 57Fe Mössbauer spectrum of 4 at 80K exhibits parameters (δ = 0.43 mm·s-1; ΔEQ = 1.37 mm·s -1) which are consistent with a five-coordinate Fe(0) system, rendering 3 and 4 the first examples of well-defined authentic Fe(0)-η6-arene complexes of the type [Fe(η6-arene) L2] (L = η1 or 2 neutral ligand, mono or bidentate). Some reactivitiy studies of 3 are also reported: The reaction of 3 with excess CO selectively yields the five-coordinate piano-stool complex [Fe{( DippC:)2CH2}(CO)3] (6) in near quantitative yields, while the reaction of complex 3 with C6D 6 under heating affords by toluene elimination 4-d6. The catalytic ability of 4 was also investigated with respect to amide reduction to amines, for a variety of substrates using Ph2SiH2 as a hydride source. In all cases good to excellent yields to the corresponding amines were obtained. The use of 4 as a precatalyst represents the first example of a well-defined Fe(0) complex to effect this catalytic process.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)18108-18120
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number48
StatePublished - 4 Dec 2013
Externally publishedYes


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