Asymmetric hydrogenation catalyzed by a rhodium complex of (R)-(tert-butylmethylphosphino)(di-tert-butylphosphino)-methane: Scope of enantioselectivity and mechanistic study

Ilya D. Gridnev, Tsuneo Imamoto, Garrett Hoge, Mitsuhiro Kouchi, Hidetoshi Takahashi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

110 Citations (Scopus)


The rhodium complex of (R)-(tert-butylmethylphosphino)(di-tert- butylphosphino)methane used in Rh-catalyzed asymmetric hydrogenation of representative substrates 3-14 demonstrated high catalytic activity coupled with wide scope and nearly perfect enantioselectivity. Mechanistic studies (NMR and DFT computations) were carried out in order to investigate the mechanism of the enantioselection in the asymmetric hydrogenation of (Z)-α- acetamidocinnamate (3). Although catalyst-substrate complexes 15a,b with the double bond coordinated near the non-"chiral" phosphorus atom were formed as kinetic products upon the addition of 3 to solvate complex 2 at -100°C, they rapidly rearranged to more stable isomers 15c,d with the double bond coordinated near the "chiral" phosphorus atom. The thermodynamic and kinetic parameters of the interconversion between 15c and 15d were determined by NMR; mainly, the interconversion occurred intramolecularly via nonchelating catalyst-substrate complexes 16. The equilibrium between 15d and 16d was directly observed from NMR line shape changes at temperatures ranging from -100 to -40°C, whereas no such equilibrium was observed for 15c. This result was accounted for computationally by determining the corresponding transition states for the methanol insertion into 15c,d. Three sets of experiments of the low-temperature hydrogenation of different catalyst-substrate complexes gave the same order and sense of enantioselectivity (97% ee (R)) even in the case when 15c, having Re-coordinated double bond, was hydrogenated under the conditions precluding its isomerization to 15d. It was concluded that the hydrogenation of 15c,d does not occur directly, but is preceded by the dissociation of the double bond to result in the more reactive species 16. This indicates that enantioselection must occur at a later step of the catalytic cycle. DFT computations of association and migratory insertion steps suggest that enantioselection takes place during the association step when chelating dihydride 19d-MeOH is formed from nonchelating dihydride 18d.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2560-2572
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2008 Feb 27

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry


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