Fe/Thiol Cooperative HAT Olefin Hydrogenation: Mechanistic Insights that Inform Enantioselective Catalysis

06 November 2023, Version 1
This content is a preprint and has not undergone peer review at the time of posting.


Asymmetric hydrogenation of activated olefins using transition metal catalysis is a powerful tool for synthesis of complex molecules, but traditional metal catalysts have difficulty with enantioselective reduction of electron-neutral, electron-rich, and minimally functionalized olefins. Hydrogenation based on radical, metal-catalyzed hydrogen atom transfer (mHAT) mechanisms offers an outstanding opportunity to overcome these difficulties, enabling mild reduction of these challenging olefins with selectivity that is complementary to traditional hydrogenations with H2. Further, mHAT presents an opportunity for asymmetric induction through cooperative hydrogen atom transfer (cHAT) using chiral thiols. Here, we report insights from an in-depth mechanistic study of an iron-catalyzed achiral cHAT reaction and leverage these insights to deliver stereocontrol from chiral thiols. Mechanistic studies, including kinetic analysis and variation of silane structure, point to the transfer of hydride from silane to iron as the likely rate-limiting step. The data indicate that the selectivity-determining step is quenching of the alkyl radical by thiol, which becomes a more potent H-atom donor when coordinated to iron(II). The resulting iron(III)-thiolate complex is in equilibrium with other iron species, including FeII(acac)2, which is shown to be the predominant off-cycle species. The enantiodetermining nature of the thiol trapping step enables enantioselective net hydrogenation of olefins through cHAT using a commercially available glucose-derived thiol catalyst, with up to 80:20 enantiomeric ratio. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first demonstration of asymmetric hydrogenation via iron-catalyzed mHAT. These findings advance our understanding of cooperative radical catalysis and enable development of enantioselective catalysis predicated upon asymmetric iron-catalyzed mHAT reactions.



Supplementary materials

Supporting Information
Synthetic procedures, experimental details, kinetic data, spectroscop-ic data, characterization data, NMR spectra, chiral HPLC chromato-grams, X-ray crystallographic data, computational details, and additional screening results


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