Cobalt/Lewis Acid Catalysis for Hydrocarbofunctionalization of Alkynes via Cooperative C–H Activation

A catalytic system comprised of a cobalt-diphosphine complex and a Lewis acid (LA) such as AlMe3 has been found to promote hydrocarbofunctionalization reactions of alkynes with Lewis basic and electron-deficient substrates such as formamides, pyridones, pyridines, and azole derivatives through site-selective C-H activation. Compared with known Ni/LA catalytic system for analogous transformations, the present catalytic system not only feature convenient set up using inexpensive and bench-stable precatalyst and ligand such as Co(acac)3 and 1,3-bis(diphenylphosphino)propane (dppp), but also display distinct site-selectivity toward C-H activation of pyridone and pyridine derivatives. In particular, a completely C4-selective alkenylation of pyridine has been achieved for the first time. Mechanistic stidies including DFT calculations on the Co/Al-catalyzed addition of formamide to alkyne have suggested that the reaction involves cleavage of the carbamoyl C-H bond as the rate-limiting step, which proceeds through a ligand-to-ligand hydrogen transfer (LLHT) mechanism leading to an alkyl(carbamoyl)cobalt intermediate.