UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Development and mechanistic analysis of n-heterocyclic carbene-catalyzed reactions Berry, Matthew T.


A new class of N-heterocyclic carbene (NHC) organocatalysts were developed based on the 1,2,3-triazolium core architecture. These catalysts were found to facilitate the oxidative esterification of aromatic aldehydes, and a small substrate scope was examined. Using reaction progress monitoring by HPLC, a detailed kinetic analysis was performed. Mechanistic studies showed the reaction to be positive order in both aldehyde and base, and zero order in oxidant and methanol. A key carbene-aldehyde adduct was isolated and characterized by X-ray crystallography, and it was shown to exhibit catalytic activity. The NHC-catalyzed oxidative acylation of electron-poor nucleophiles was also developed, using a 1,2,4-triazolium salt precatalyst. A brief substrate scope was examined, and a kinetic analysis was performed using ¹H NMR reaction monitoring. The mechanistic analysis revealed that the reaction is positive order in aldehyde and base, and zero order in catalyst, oxidant, and sulfonamide nucleophile. In addition, the origin of catalyst deactivation was investigated in the NHC-catalyzed oxidative amidation of aldehydes with amines. Two carbene-amine adducts were discovered, and they were characterized by 1-D and 2-D NMR techniques. A minor carbene-carbene condensation product was also discovered, and characterized by X-ray crystallography. Finally, a new method of synthesizing dihydropyrimidone precursors for isothiourea organocatalysts was developed, and a brief substrate scope was examined. Experimental and computational results showed that the cyclization reaction proceeds through an alpha,beta-unsaturated mixed imide intermediate, rather than by direct conjugate addition to the alpha,beta-unsaturated amide starting material. These computational results also revealed a 7.6 kcal/mol difference between the imide cyclization pathway and the direct acrylamide cyclization pathway. Using HPLC reaction monitoring methods, a preliminary mechanistic analysis was performed. These preliminary results showed that electron-withdrawing substituents on the benzothiazole ring slow down the reaction, while electron-donating substituents do not enhance the reaction rate.

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