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Brønsted Acid CatalysisStructural Preferences and Mobility in Imine/Phosphoric Acid Complexes

Greindl, Julian, Hioe, Johnny, Sorgenfrei, Nils, Morana, Fabio, Gschwind, Ruth M.
Journal of the American Chemical Society 2016 v.138 no.49 pp. 15965-15971
catalysts, catalytic activity, enantiomers, hydrogen, hydrogen bonding, nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, oxygen, phosphates, phosphoric acid
Despite the huge success of enantioselective Brønsted acid catalysis, experimental data about structures and activation modes of substrate/catalyst complexes in solution are very rare. Here, for the first time, detailed insights into the structures of imine/Brønsted acid catalyst complexes are presented on the basis of NMR data and underpinned by theoretical calculations. The chiral Brønsted acid catalyst R-TRIP (3,3′-bis(2,4,6-triisopropylphenyl)-1,1′-binaphthyl-2,2′-diyl hydrogen phosphate) was investigated together with six aromatic imines. For each investigated system, an E-imine/R-TRIP complex and a Z-imine/R-TRIP complex were observed. Each of these complexes consists of two structures, which are in fast exchange on the NMR time scale; i.e., overall four structures were found. Both identified E-imine/R-TRIP structures feature a strong hydrogen bond but differ in the orientation of the imine relative to the catalyst. The exchange occurs by tilting the imine inside the complex and thereby switching the oxygen that constitutes the hydrogen bond. A similar situation is observed for all investigated Z-imine/R-TRIP complexes. Here, an additional exchange pathway is opened via rotation of the imine. For all investigated imine/R-TRIP complexes, the four core structures are highly preserved. Thus, these core structures are independent of electron density and substituent modulations of the aromatic imines. Overall, this study reveals that the absolute structural space of binary imine/TRIP complexes is large and the variations of the four core structures are small. The high mobility is supposed to promote reactivity, while the preservation of the core structures in conjunction with extensive π–π and CH−π interactions leads to high enantioselectivities and tolerance of different substrates.