Posts Tagged ‘bridging’
Metal-hydrogen bonds, also known (misleadingly) as metal hydrides, are ubiquitous X-type ligands in organometallic chemistry. There is much more than meets the eye to most M-H bonds: although they’re simple to draw, they vary enormously in polarization and pKa. They may be acidic or hydridic or both, depending on the nature of the metal center and the reaction conditions. In this post, we’ll develop some heuristics for predicting the behavior of M-H bonds and discuss their major modes of reactivity (acidity, radical reactions, migratory insertion, etc.). We’ll also touch on the most widely used synthetic methods to form metal hydrides.
Metal hydrides run the gamut from nucleophilic/basic to electrophilic/acidic. Then again, the same can be said of X–H bonds in organic chemistry, which may vary from mildly nucleophilic (consider Hantzsch esters and NADH) to extremely electrophilic (consider triflic acid). As hydrogen is what it is in both cases, it’s clear that the nature of the X fragment—more specifically, the stability of the charged fragments X+ and X–—dictate the character of the X–H bond. Compare the four equilibria outlined below—the stabilities of the ions dictate the position of each equilibrium. By now we shouldn’t find it surprising that the highly π-acidic W(CO)5 fragment is good at stabilizing negative charge; for a similar reason, the ZrCp2Cl fragment can stabilize positive charge.*
In this post, we’ll take a quick look at L-type ligands of nitrogen, oxygen, and sulfur. Ligands of this type are important for at least two reasons: (1) coordination to a metal can modify the reactivity of the bound functional group, and (2) dative coordination is a critical element of organometallic reactions that depend on intramolecular directing group effects. “Long-term” ligands containing two-connected nitrogens, such as pyridines and oxazolines, are now among the most commonly used for organometallic reactions. The behavior of coordinated dinitrogen is also a hot research area right now. Although they look boring on the surface, dative ligands of N, O, and S are rich in chemistry!
This might be the first class of ligand for which we can reliably say that backbonding is rarely important. Dative coordination of amines and alcohols involves a straightforward n → dσ orbital interaction. Intuitively, we should expect the acidity of amines, alcohols, and thiols to increase upon coordination, because removal of electron density from nitrogen and oxygen through coordination makes these atoms more electrophilic. Consider the charged model of dative bonding at left in the figure below.
Transfer of the lost proton to an organic substrate is an important aspect of hydrogenation reactions employing amine ligands (see below).
Food for thought: why aren’t (cheaper) amines found in place of phosphines in organometallic catalysts? History has ruled against tertiary amines, but are there any good reasons why? Yes—for one thing, amine nitrogens are more sterically hindered than analogous phosphorus atoms, because N–C bonds are shorter than P–C bonds. Plus, the cone angles of amines are generally wider than those of phosphines. Getting amines to play nice with hindered metal centers can thus be very difficult. Read the rest of this entry »
Arene or aromatic ligands are the subject of this post, the second in our series on π-system ligands. Arenes are dative, L-type ligands that may serve either as actors or spectators. Arenes commonly bind to metals through more than two atoms, although η2-arene ligands are known. Structurally, most η6-arenes tend to remain planar after binding to metals. Both “normal” bonding and backbonding are possible for arene ligands; however, arenes are stronger electron donors than CO and backbonding is less important for these ligands. The reactivity of arenes changes dramatically upon metal binding, along lines that we would expect for strongly electron-donating ligands. After coordinating to a transition metal, the arene usually becomes a better electrophile (particularly when the metal is electron poor). Thus, metal coordination can enable otherwise difficult nucleophilic aromatic substitution reactions.
The coordination of an aromatic compound to a metal center through its aromatic π MOs removes electron density from the ring. I’m going to forego an in-depth orbital analysis in this post, because it’s honestly not very useful (and overly complex) for arene ligands. π → dσ (normal bonding) and dπ → π* (backbonding) orbital interactions are possible for arene ligands, with the former being much more important, typically. To simplify drawings, you often see chemists draw “toilet-bowl” arenes involving a circle and single central line to represent the π → dσ orbital interaction. Despite the single line, it is often useful to think about arenes as L3-type ligands. For instance, we think of η6-arenes as six-electron donors.
Multiple coordination modes are possible for arene ligands. When all six atoms of a benzene ring are bound to the metal (η6-mode), the ring is flat and C–C bond lengths are slightly longer than those in the free arene. The ring is bent and non-aromatic in η4-mode, so that the four atoms bound to the metal are coplanar while the other π bond is out of the plane. η4-Arene ligands show up in both stable complexes (see the figure below) and reactive intermediates that possess an open coordination site. To generate the latter, the corresponding η6-arene ligand undergoes ring slippage—one of the π bonds “slips” off of the metal to create an open coordination site. We’ll see ring slippage again in discussions of the aromatic cyclopentadienyl and indenyl ligands.