Aryl alkyl ethers, which are widely used throughout the chemical industry, are typically produced via the Williamson ether synthesis. Olefin hydroaryloxylation potentially offers a much more atom-economical alternative. Known acidic catalysts for hydroaryloxylation, however, afford very poor selectivity. We report the organometallic-catalyzed intermolecular hydroaryloxylation of unactivated olefins by iridium "pincer" complexes. These catalysts do not operate via the hidden Brønsted acid pathway common to previously developed transition-metal-based catalysts. The reaction is proposed to proceed via olefin insertion into an iridium-alkoxide bond, followed by rate-determining C-H reductive elimination to yield the ether product. The reaction is highly chemo- and regioselective and offers a new approach to the atom-economical synthesis of industrially important ethers and, potentially, a wide range of other oxygenates.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Colloid and Surface Chemistry