Reductive amination using cobalt-based nanoparticles for synthesis of amines

Kathiravan Murugesan, Vishwas G. Chandrashekhar, Thirusangumurugan Senthamarai, Rajenahally V. Jagadeesh, Matthias Beller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


Reductive aminations are an essential class of reactions widely applied for the preparation of different kinds of amines, as well as a number of pharmaceuticals and industrially relevant compounds. In such reactions, carbonyl compounds (aldehydes, ketones) react with ammonia or amines in the presence of a reducing agent and form corresponding amines. Common catalysts used for reductive aminations, especially for the synthesis of primary amines, are based on precious metals or Raney nickel. However, their drawbacks and limited applicability inspired us to look for alternative catalysts. The development of base-metal nanostructured catalysts is highly preferable and is crucial to the advancement of sustainable and cost-effective reductive amination processes. In this protocol, we describe the preparation of carbon-supported cobalt-based nanoparticles as efficient and practical catalysts for synthesis of different kinds of amines by reductive aminations. Template synthesis of a cobalt–triethylenediamine–terephthalic acid metal–organic framework on carbon and subsequent pyrolysis to remove the organic template resulted in the formation of supported single cobalt atoms and nanoparticles. Applying these catalysts, we have synthesized structurally diverse benzylic, aliphatic and heterocyclic primary, secondary and tertiary amines, including pharmaceutically relevant products, starting from inexpensive and easily accessible carbonyl compounds with ammonia, nitro compounds or amines and molecular hydrogen. To prepare this cobalt-based catalyst takes 26 h, and the reported catalytic reductive amination reactions can be carried out within 18–28 h.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1313-1337
Number of pages25
JournalNature Protocols
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2020
Externally publishedYes


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