Expanding Water/Base Tolerant FLP Chemistry to Alkylamines Enables Broad Scope Reductive Aminations

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Lower Lewis acidity boranes demonstrate greater tolerance to combinations of water/strong Brønsted bases than B(C6F5)3, this enables Si−H bond activation by a frustrated Lewis pair (FLP) mechanism to proceed in the presence of H2O/alkylamines. Specifically, BPh3 has improved water tolerance in the presence of alkylamines as the Brønsted acidic adduct H2O–BPh3 does not undergo irreversible deprotonation with aliphatic amines in contrast to H2O–B(C6F5)3. Therefore BPh3 is a catalyst for the reductive amination of aldehydes and ketones with alkylamines using silanes as reductants. A range of amines inaccessible using B(C6F5)3 as catalyst, were accessible by reductive amination catalysed by BPh3 via an operationally simple methodology requiring no purification of BPh3 or reagents/solvent. BPh3 has a complementary reductive amination scope to B(C6F5)3 with the former not an effective catalyst for the reductive amination of arylamines, while the latter is not an effective catalyst for the reductive amination of alkylamines. This disparity is due to the different pKa values of the water–borane adducts and the greater susceptibility of BPh3 species towards protodeboronation. An understanding of the deactivation processes occurring using B(C6F5)3 and BPh3 as reductive amination catalysts led to the identification of a third triarylborane, B(3,5-Cl2C6H3)3, that has a broader substrate scope being able to catalyse the reductive amination of both aryl and alkyl amines with carbonyls.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2217-2224
JournalChemistry: A European Journal
Issue number9
Early online date18 Jan 2017
StatePublished - 13 Feb 2017