Synthesis of PCP-supported nickel complexes and their reactivity with carbon dioxide

Timothy J. Schmeier, Ainara Nova, Nilay Hazari, Feliu Maseras

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The Ni amide and hydroxide complexes [(PCP)Ni(NH 2)] (2; PCP=bis-2,6-di-tert-butylphosphinomethylbenzene) and [(PCP)Ni(OH)] (3) were prepared by treatment of [(PCP)NiCl] (1) with NaNH 2 or NaOH, respectively. The conditions for the formation of 3 from 1 and NaOH were harsh (2 weeks in THF at reflux) and a more facile synthetic route involved protonation of 2 with H 2O, to generate 3 and ammonia. Similarly the basic amide in 2 was protonated with a variety of other weak acids to form the complexes [(PCP)Ni(2-Me-imidazole)] (4), [(PCP)Ni(dimethylmalonate)] (5), [(PCP)Ni(oxazole)] (6), and [(PCP)Ni(CCPh)] (7), respectively. The hydroxide compound 3, could also be used as a Ni precursor and treatment of 3 with TMSCN (TMS=trimethylsilyl) or TMSN 3 generated [(PCP)Ni(CN)] (8) or [(PCP)Ni(N 3)] (9), respectively. Compounds 3-7, and 9 were characterized by X-ray crystallography. Although 3, 4, 6, 7, and 9 are all four-coordinate complexes with a square-planar geometry around Ni, 5 is a pseudo-five-coordinate complex, with the dimethylmalonate ligand coordinated in an X-type fashion through one oxygen atom, and weakly as an L-type ligand through another oxygen atom. Complexes 2-9 were all reacted with carbon dioxide. Compounds 2-4 underwent facile reaction at low temperature to form the κ 1-O carboxylate products [(PCP)Ni{OC(O)NH 2}] (10), [(PCP)Ni{OC(O)OH}] (11), and [(PCP)Ni{OC(O)-2-Me-imidazole}] (12), respectively. Compounds 10 and 11 were characterized by X-ray crystallography. No reaction was observed between 5-9 and carbon dioxide, even at elevated temperatures. DFT calculations were performed to model the thermodynamics for the insertion of carbon dioxide into 2-9 to form a κ 1-O carboxylate product and understand the pathways for carbon dioxide insertion into 2, 3, 6, and 7. The computed free energies indicate that carbon dioxide insertion into 2 and 3 is thermodynamically favorable, insertion into 8 and 9 is significantly uphill, insertion into 5 and 7 is slightly uphill, and insertion into 4 and 6 is close to thermoneutral. The pathway for insertion into 2 and 3 has a low barrier and involves nucleophilic attack of the nitrogen or oxygen lone pair on electrophilic carbon dioxide. A related stepwise pathway is calculated for 7, but in this case the carbon of the alkyne is significantly less nucleophilic and as a result, the barrier for carbon dioxide insertion is high. In contrast, carbon dioxide insertion into 6 involves a single concerted step that has a high barrier. Copyright © 2012 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6915-6927
JournalChemistry - A European Journal
Issue number22
Publication statusPublished - 29 May 2012


  • carboxylation
  • coordination chemistry
  • density functional calculations
  • nickel
  • organometallic chemistry
  • pincer compounds


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