Inorganic Chemistry

Mechanism of Nitrogen-Carbon Bond Formation From Iron(IV) Disilylhydrazido Intermediates During N2 Reduction



We recently reported a reaction sequence that activates C–H bonds in simple arenes as well as the N–N triple bond in N2, delivering the aryl group to N2 to form a new N–C bond. This enables the transformation of abundant feedstocks (arenes and N2) into N-containing organic compounds. The key N–C bond forming step occurs upon partial silylation of N2, which then can accept the aryl fragment. However, the pathway through which reduction, silylation, and migration occurred was unknown. Here we describe synthetic, structural, magnetic, spectroscopic, kinetic, and computational studies that elucidate the steps of this transformation. N2 must be silylated twice at the distal N atom before aryl migration can occur, and sequential silyl radical and silyl cation addition is a kinetically competent pathway to a formally iron(IV) intermediate with an NN(SiMe3)2 ligand. It can be isolated at low temperature. Kinetic studies show its first-order conversion to the migrated product, and DFT calculations indicate a concerted transition state for migration. The electronic structure of the formally iron(IV) intermediate is examined using DFT and CASSCF calculations, which reveal contributions from iron(II) and iron(III) resonance forms with oxidized NNSi2 ligands. The depletion of electron density from the Fe-coordinated N atom makes it electrophilic enough to accept the incoming aryl group. This unprecedented pathway for N–C bond formation offers a method for functionalizing N2 with organometallic chemistry.


Thumbnail image of text for ChemRxiv.pdf

Supplementary material

Thumbnail image of SI 11-21.pdf
Supporting Information
Synthesis, Experimental Details, Computational Details