The Organometallic Reader

Dedicated to the teaching and learning of modern organometallic chemistry.

Posts Tagged ‘hydrogenation

Epic Ligand Survey: Metal Alkyls (Part 1)

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Epic Ligand Survey: Metal Alkyls (Part 1)With this post we finally reach the defining ligands of organometallic chemistry, alkyls. Metal alkyls feature a metal-carbon σ bond and are usually actor ligands, although some alkyl ligands behave as spectators. Our aim will be to understand the general dependence of the behavior of alkyl ligands on the metal center and the ligand’s substituents. Using this knowledge, we can make meaningful comparisons between related metal alkyl complexes and educated predictions about their likely behavior. Because alkyl ligands are central to organometallic chemistry, I’ve decided to spread this discussion across multiple posts. We’ll deal first with the general properties of metal alkyls.

General Properties

In the Simplifying the Organometallic Complex series, we decomposed the M–C bond into a positively charged metal and negatively charged carbon. This deconstruction procedure is consistent with the relative electronegativities of carbon and the transition metals. It can be very useful for us to imagine metal alkyls essentially as stabilized carbanions—but it’s also important to understand that M–C bonds run the gamut from extremely ionic and salt-like (NaCH3) to essentially covalent ([HgCH3]+). The reactivity of the alkyl ligand is inversely related to the electronegativity of the metal center.

Reactivity decreases as the metal's electronegativity increases.

Reactivity decreases as the metal's electronegativity increases. Values given are Pauling electronegativities.

The hybridization of the carbon atom is also important, and the trend here follows the trend in nucleophilicity as a function of hybridization in organic chemistry. sp-Hybridized ligands are the least nucleophilic, followed by sp2 and sp3 ligands respectively. Read the rest of this entry »

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Written by Michael Evans

March 1, 2012 at 12:45 pm

Epic Ligand Survey: Metal Hydrides

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Epic Ligand Survey: Metal HydridesMetal-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.

General Properties

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.*

Metal-hydrogen bonds may be either hydridic (nucleophilic) or acidic (electrophilic). The nature of other ligands and the reaction conditions are keys to making predictions.

Metal-hydrogen bonds may be either hydridic (nucleophilic) or acidic (electrophilic). The nature of other ligands and the reaction conditions are keys to making predictions.

Read the rest of this entry »

Epic Ligand Survey: Dative Ligands of N, O, and S

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Epic Ligand Survey: Dative Ligands of N, O, and SIn 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!

General Properties

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.

In the absence of backbonding, coordination increases acidity. Write that down.

Coordination increases acidity.

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 »

Written by Michael Evans

February 19, 2012 at 11:46 pm