Mechanistic insights into carbonyl-directed rhodium-catalyzed hydroboration: Ab initio study of a cyclic γ,δ-unsaturated amide

Zhao Di Yang, Rhitankar Pal, Gia L. Hoang, Xiao Cheng Zeng, James M. Takacs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


A two-point binding mechanism for the cationic rhodium(I)-catalyzed carbonyl-directed catalytic asymmetric hydroboration of a cyclic γ,δ-unsaturated amide is investigated using density functional theory. Geometry optimizations and harmonic frequency calculations for the model reaction are carried out using the basis set 6-31+G** for C, O, P, B, N, and H and LANL2DZ for Rh atoms. The Gibbs free energy of each species in THF solvent is obtained based on the single-point energy computed using the PCM model at the ECP28MWB/6-311+G(d,p) level plus the thermal correction to Gibbs free energy by deducting translational entropy contribution. The Rh-catalyzed reaction cycle involves the following sequence of events: (1) chelation of the cyclic γ,δ-unsaturated amide via alkene and carbonyl complexation in a model active catalytic species, [Rh(L2)2S2] +, (2) oxidative addition of pinacol borane (pinBH), (3) migratory insertion of the alkene double bond into Rh-H (preferred pathway) or Rh-B bond, (4) isomerization of the resulting intermediate, and finally, (5) reductive elimination to form the B-C or H-C bond with regeneration of the catalyst. Free energy profiles for potential pathways leading to the major γ-borylated product are computed and discussed in detail. The potential pathways considered include (1) pathways proceeding via migratory insertion into the Rh-H bond (pathways I, I-1, and I-2), (2) a potential pathway proceeding via migratory insertion into the Rh-B bond (pathway II), and two potential competing routes to a β-borylated byproduct (pathway III). The results find that the Rh-H migratory insertion pathway I-2, followed in sequence by an unanticipated isomerization via amide rotation and reductive elimination, is the most favorable reaction pathway. A secondary consequence of amide rotation is access to a competing β-hydride elimination pathway. The pathways computed in this study are supported by and help explain related experimental results.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)763-771
Number of pages9
JournalACS Catalysis
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 7 2014


  • Density functional theory (DFT)
  • catalysis mechanism
  • catalytic asymmetric hydroboration
  • rhodium-catalyzed
  • two-point binding mechanism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Chemistry(all)


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