Cobalt-catalyzed, room-temperature addition of aromatic imines to alkynes via directed C-H bond activation

Pin Sheng Lee, Takeshi Fujita, Naohiko Yoshikai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

192 Citations (Scopus)


A quaternary catalytic system consisting of a cobalt salt, a triarylphosphine ligand, a Grignard reagent, and pyridine has been developed for chelation-assisted C-H bond activation of an aromatic imine, followed by insertion of an unactivated internal alkyne that occurs at ambient temperature. The reaction not only tolerates potentially senstitive functional groups (e.g., Cl, Br, CN, and tertiary amide), but also displays a unique regioselectivity. Thus, the presence of substituents such as methoxy, halogen, and cyano groups at the meta-position of the imino group led to selective C-C bond formation at the more sterically hindered ortho positions. Under acidic conditions, the hydroarylation products of dialkyl- and alkylarylacetylenes underwent cyclization to afford benzofulvene derivatives, while those of diarylacetylenes afforded the corresponding ketones in moderate to good yields. A mechanistic investigation into the reaction with the aid of deuterium-labeling experiments and kinetic analysis has indicated that oxidative addition of the ortho C-H bond is the rate-limiting step of the reaction. The kinetic analysis has also shed light on the complexity of the quaternary catalytic system.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17283-17295
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number43
Publication statusPublished - 2011 Nov 2


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