Water molecules can serve as proton shuttles for proton transfer in the C-H bond insertion reactions catalyzed by transition metal complexes. Recently, the control experiments performed for C-H bond insertion of phenol and anisol by gold carbenes show that large discrepancy exists in the yields of hydrogenated and deuterated products. Thus, we conducted a detailed theoretical analysis on the function of water molecules in the C-H bond insertion reactions. The comparison of calculated results and control experiments indicates that the solution water molecules play a crucial role of proton shuttle in C-H bond insertion. In particular, it was found that the hydroxyl groups in phenols were capable of donating protons via water shuttles for the production of C-H products, which had a substantial influence on the yields of inserted products. The hydroxyl groups instead of C-H bonds in phenols function like "proton reservoirs" in the C-H bond insertion, which we call the "proton self-sufficient" (PSS) function of phenol. The PSS function of phenol indicates that the substrates with and without proton reservoirs will lead to different C-H bond insertion products.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry