Chemical science

Cu-Catalyzed aromatic C-H imidation with N-fluorobenzenesulfonimide: mechanistic details and predictive models.

PMID 28451236


The LCuBr-catalyzed C-H imidation of arenes by N-fluorobenzenesulfonimide (NFSI), previously reported by us, utilizes an inexpensive catalyst and is applicable to a broad scope of complex arenes. The computational and experimental study reported here shows that the mechanism of the reaction is comprised of two parts: (1) generation of the active dinuclear Cu(II)-Cu(II) catalyst; and (2) the catalytic cycle for the C-H bond imidation of arenes. Computations show that the LCu(I)Br complex used in experiments is not an active catalyst. Instead, upon reacting with NFSI it converts to an active dinuclear Cu(II)-Cu(II) catalyst that is detected using HRMS techniques. The catalytic cycle starting from the Cu(II)-Cu(II) dinuclear complex proceeds via (a) one-electron oxidation of the active catalyst by NFSI to generate an imidyl radical and dinuclear Cu(II)-Cu(III) intermediate, (b) turnover-limiting single-electron-transfer (SET1) from the arene to the imidyl radical, (c) fast C-N bond formation with an imidyl anion and an aryl radical cation, (d) reduction of the Cu(II)-Cu(III) dinuclear intermediate by the aryl radical to regenerate the active catalyst and produce an aryl-cation intermediate, and (e) deprotonation and rearomatization of the arene ring to form the imidated product. The calculated KIE for the turnover-limiting SET1 step reproduces its experimentally observed value. A simple predictive tool was developed and experimentally validated to determine the regiochemical outcome for a given substrate. We demonstrated that the pre-reaction LCuX complexes, where X = Cl, Br and I, show a similar reactivity pattern as these complexes convert to the same catalytically active dinuclear Cu(II)-Cu(II) species.