Title

Phenolic 3 Phosphine Oxides as a Class of Metal-Free Catalysts for the Activation of C–O Bonds in Aliphatic Alcohols: Direct Synthesis of Catalyst Candidates, and Kinetic Studies

DOI

10.3390/inorganics10030035

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date

3-1-2022

Publication Title

Inorganics

Volume

10

Issue

3

Keywords

Alcohol activation, Mitsunobu reaction, Organocatalysis, Phosphine oxide

Abstract

It was recently reported that a (2-hydroxybenzyl)phosphine oxide (2-HOBPO) can serve as a phosphorus-centered catalyst for the stereo-invertive coupling of aliphatic alcohols and acidic pronucleophiles (akin to a Mitsunobu reaction, but without additional reagents). Herein, we report an improved synthesis, which provides direct access to systematically varied 2-HOBPOs in a single step from commercially available precursors (salicylaldehydes and secondary phosphines). The efficiency and generality of the synthetic method enabled limited structure–activity relationship (SAR) studies, from which it was determined that substituents on both the phenolic and phosphine oxide portions can exert significant influence on the turnover frequency (TOF) of each catalyst. Importantly, for all catalytically active 2-HOBPOs examined, the molecularity of catalyst in the rate law of the alcohol coupling was determined to be <1. Thus, for high catalyst loadings, differences in catalytic activity between 2-HOBPOs appear to be dominated by differences in catalytic auto-inhibition, while for low catalyst loadings, differences are attributed to inherent differences in the energetic span of the catalytic cycle, ignoring off-cycle species, in good agreement with density functional theory (DFT) modeling at the ωB97X-D/6-311G(d,p) level.

Open Access

Gold

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