Ullmann-type C−N coupling reactions represent an important alternative to well-established Pd-catalyzed approaches due to the differing reactivity and the lower cost of Cu. While the design of anionic Cu ligands, particularly those by Ma, has enabled the coupling of various classes of aryl halides and alkyl amines, most methods require conditions that can limit their utility on complex substrates. Herein, we disclose the development of anionic N1,N2-diarylbenzene-1,2-diamine ligands that promote the Cu-catalyzed amination of aryl bromides under mild conditions. Guided by DFT calculations, these ligands were designed to (1) increase the electron density on Cu, thereby increasing the rate of oxidative addition of aryl bromides, and (2) stabilize the active anionic CuI complex via a π-interaction. Under optimized conditions, structurally diverse aryl and heteroaryl bromides and a broad range of alkyl amine nucleophiles, including pharmaceuticals bearing multiple functional groups, were efficiently coupled at room temperature. Combined computational and experimental studies support a mechanism of C−N bond formation that follows a catalytic cycle akin to the well-explored Pd-catalyzed variants. Modification of the ligand structure to include the a naphthyl residue resulted in a lower energy barrier to oxidative addition, providing a 30-fold rate increase relative to what is seen with other ligands. Collectively, these results establish a new class of anionic ligands for Cu-catalyzed C−N couplings, which we anticipate may be extended to other Cu-catalyzed C−heteroatom and C−C bond-forming reactions.
“Room-Temperature Cu-Catalyzed Amination of Aryl Bromides Enabled by DFT-Guided Ligand Design”, J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2023, 145(12), 6966-6975.