Probing the Carbon-Hydrogen Activation of Alkanes Following Photolysis of Tp'Rh(CNR)(carbodiimide): A Computational and Time-Resolved Infrared Spectroscopic Study. Academic Article uri icon


  • Carbon-hydrogen bond activation of alkanes by Tp'Rh(CNR) (Tp' = Tp = trispyrazolylborate or Tp* = tris(3,5-dimethylpyrazolyl)borate) were followed by time-resolved infrared spectroscopy (TRIR) in the (CNR) and (B-H) spectral regions on Tp*Rh(CNCH2CMe3), and their reaction mechanisms were modeled by density functional theory (DFT) on TpRh(CNMe). The major intermediate species were: 3-1-alkane complex (1); 2-2-alkane complex (2); and 3-alkyl hydride (3). Calculations predict that the barrier between 1 and 2 arises from a triplet-singlet crossing and intermediate 2 proceeds over the rate-determining C-H activation barrier to give the final product 3. The activation lifetimes measured for the Tp*Rh(CNR) and Tp*Rh(CO) fragments with n-heptane and four cycloalkanes (C5H10, C6H12, C7H14, and C8H16) increase with alkanes size and show a dramatic increase between C6H12 and C7H14. A similar step-like behavior was observed previously with CpRh(CO) and Cp*Rh(CO) fragments and is attributed to the wider difference in C-H bonds that appear at C7H14. However, Tp'Rh(CNR) and Tp'Rh(CO) fragments have much longer absolute lifetimes compared to those of CpRh(CO) and Cp*Rh(CO) fragments, because the reduced electron density in dechelated 2-2-alkane Tp' complexes stabilizes the d8 Rh(I) in a square-planar geometry and weakens the metal's ability for oxidative addition of the C-H bond. Further, the Tp'Rh(CNR) fragment has significantly slower rates of C-H activation in comparison to the Tp'Rh(CO) fragment for the larger cycloalkanes, because the steric bulk of the neopentyl isocyanide ligand hinders the rechelation in 2-Tp'Rh(CNR)(cycloalkane) species and results in the C-H activation without the assistance of the rechelation.

published proceedings

  • J Am Chem Soc

altmetric score

  • 2

author list (cited authors)

  • Guan, J., Wriglesworth, A., Sun, X. Z., Brothers, E. N., Zari, S. D., Evans, M. E., ... George, M. W.

citation count

  • 25

complete list of authors

  • Guan, Jia||Wriglesworth, Alisdair||Sun, Xue Zhong||Brothers, Edward N||Zarić, Snežana D||Evans, Meagan E||Jones, William D||Towrie, Michael||Hall, Michael B||George, Michael W

publication date

  • February 2018