Iridium(I) complexes for the functionalisation of carbon-hydrogen bonds

  • Renan Zorzatto de Morais

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


The development of catalytic systems for the functionalisation of carbon-hydrogen bonds has been an intensive area of research for the last 5 decades. In this context, transition metal complexes play a crucial role in reaction discovery, mechanistic evaluation and synthetic applications. In the Kerr group, this technology has been explored in the context of hydrogen isotope exchange, resulting in the development of highly active iridium(I) complexes bearing phosphines and NHC ligands. Despite their broad functional group compatibility, existing methods for isotope exchange are ineffective in the labelling of sterically encumbered directing groups. Hence, in the first chapter we investigate the synthesis of three new iridium(I) complexes bearing chelating phosphine-functionalised NHC ligands, and their application in the isotope exchange of sterically hindered carbamates. Our initial studies revealed high catalytic efficiency and tolerance for steric encumbrance, prompting us to perform a combined theoretical and experimental investigation of the reaction mechanism.Therefore, by conducting DFT calculations and kinetic experiments, we were able to identify a rich dynamic behaviour in solution and ultimately propose a reaction mechanism. Additionally, our interest in the activation of carbon-hydrogen bonds resulted in the exploration of a theoretical model for the prediction of enthalpies of activation, resulting in the identification of relevant electronic and steric descriptors.From the knowledge gathered in our initial studies, the second chapter describes the application of our novel iridium catalysts in the functionalisation of carbon-hydrogen bonds in the context of hydroarylation of olefins. Thus, we identified carboxylic acids as suitable directing groups for this transformation and employed Design of Experiments to optimise the reaction conditions. Synthetic studies were focused on the preparation of 14 substrates, enabling quick assessment of the capabilities and limitations of this reaction. These investigations resulted in a synthetic method suitable for the synthesis of bi- and tricycles featuring tertiary and quaternary benzylic stereocentres in a racemic fashion.Finally, we investigated the mechanism of this process by DFT calculations, which led us to identify a plausible reaction pathway which should guide future kinetic evaluations.
Date of Award8 Jan 2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University Of Strathclyde
SupervisorWilliam Kerr (Supervisor) & Tell Tuttle (Supervisor)

Cite this