The phosphine-borane iPr2P(o-C6H4)BFxyl2 (Fxyl = 3,5-(F3C)2C6H3) 1-Fxyl was found to promote the reductive elimination of ethane from [AuMe2(μ-Cl)]2. Nuclear magnetic resonance monitoring revealed the intermediate formation of the (1-Fxyl)AuMe2Cl complex. DFT calculations identified a zwitterionic path as the lowest energy profile, with an overall activation barrier more than 10 kcal/mol lower than without borane assistance. The Lewis acid moiety first abstracts the chloride to generate a zwitterionic Au(III) complex, which then readily undergoes C(sp3)–C(sp3) coupling. The chloride is finally transferred back from boron to gold. The electronic features of this Lewis-assisted reductive elimination at gold have been deciphered by intrinsic bond orbital analyses. Sufficient Lewis acidity of boron is required for the ambiphilic ligand to trigger the C(sp3)–C(sp3) coupling, as shown by complementary studies with two other phosphine-boranes, and the addition of chlorides slows down the reductive elimination of ethane.
This paper by Yago García-Rodeja and collaborators can be found in: