TMP (2,2,6,6-tetramethylpiperidide)-aluminate bases : lithium-mediated alumination or lithiation-alkylaluminium-trapping reagents?

Armstrong, David R. and Crosbie, Elaine and Hevia, Eva and Mulvey, Robert E. and Ramsay, Donna L. and Robertson, Stuart D. (2014) TMP (2,2,6,6-tetramethylpiperidide)-aluminate bases : lithium-mediated alumination or lithiation-alkylaluminium-trapping reagents? Chemical Science, 5 (8). pp. 3031-3045. ISSN 2041-6520

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    The lithium TMP-aluminate bases "LiTMP·Al(iBu) 3" 1 and "LiTMP·Al(TMP)(iBu) 2" 2, where TMP is 2,2,6,6-tetramethylpiperidide, have recently come under the spotlight as "aluminating" reagents in that they can perform aluminium-hydrogen exchange on a wide variety of aromatic substrates. Previous studies have intimated that 1 existed as a single species in THF solution formulated as [(THF)·Li(μ-TMP)(μ-iBu)Al( iBu)2] 1·THF, having a contacted ion pair structure as evidenced by an X-ray crystallographic study of isolated crystals. But here using anisole as a case substrate it is revealed that pre-crystallised 1·THF cannot deprotonate anisole at all whether in hexane or THF solution contradicting earlier in situ applications of 1 which revealed near quantitative metallation of anisole. NMR spectroscopic studies of 1 made in situ in THF solution ascribe this reactivity distinction from 1·THF to complex equilibria involving five major species in LiTMP·THF, Al( iBu)3·THF, [{Li(THF)4} +{Al(TMP)(iBu)3}-] 1·(THF)4, [(THF)·Li(μ-TMP)(μ-OC4H 7)Al(iBu)2], 4, and (TMP)Al( iBu)2·THF. Reagent 2 in contrast is found to exist as only two separated homometallic species in LiTMP·THF and (TMP)Al( iBu)2·THF in THF solution. The constitutions of 1 and 2 in non-polar hexane solution are also revealed. With the aid of DFT calculations, discussion focuses on the fact that none of the aluminate species present in THF solutions of 1 or 2 can deprotonate/metallate anisole, instead the metallation processes appear to be LiTMP lithiations followed immediately by trapping by an alkylaluminium complex, in a metal exchange which drives the reaction to the product (arylaluminated) side.