Development of new reactions and reagents in carbene-catalyzed addition of carbon and nitrogen nucleophiles to unsaturated acyl azolium intermediates
Date of Issue2017
School of Physical and Mathematical Sciences
This thesis focuses on development of efficient protocols for access to advanced complex molecules enabled by N-heterocyclic carbene (NHC) catalyzed LUMO activation of enal or its ester derivatives, and discovery of polyhalide as simple organic oxidant for oxidative carbene catalysis. It contains five parts: Chapter 1 first gives a brief introduction to the history of asymmetric organocatalysis, followed by development of N-heterocyclic carbene (NHC) catalysis. This includes three main aspects, (a) catalysis involving umpolung acyl-anion, (b) homoenolate catalysis, (c) reactions involving acyl azolium intermediates. This chapter also illustrates the challenges and opportunities in NHC catalyzed reactions, especially in heteroatoms as nucleophiles for α, β-unsaturated acyl azolium and simple oxidants for oxidative NHC catalysis. Chapter 2 describes a single-step, organocatalytic and enantioselective cascade process for access to a multi-cyclic lactone that constitutes the core structure of iridoids. This protocol shows the synthetic power of a NHC catalyst for the activation of a readily available and stable carboxylic ester to give the unsaturated acyl azolium intermediate. Chapter 3 demonstrates an efficient protocol for the preparation of pyrazolidinone products via nucleophilic β-carbon amination of enals under oxidative NHC catalysis. The heterocycle adducts from the catalytic reaction can readily undergo further transformations to afford various useful functional molecules, such as pyrazolidines and β-amino acid derivatives. Chapter 4 shows a novel and efficient cascade approach for the direct assembly of two privileged scaffolds (pyrrolidine and β-lactone) with good to excellent yield and enantioselectivity. This study sheds light on modulating the reactivity of nitrogen atom for challenging NHC-catalyzed asymmetric C-N bond formations. Chapter 5 introduces polyhalide reagents as simple and inexpensive oxidants for oxidative NHC catalysis, providing efficient methods for functionalization of the α, β and γ atoms of aldehydes. The oxidative process involves multiple radical intermediates, and shall inspire new reaction development via NHC-catalyzed radical process.