Taming the beast : fluoromesityl groups induce a dramatic stability enhancement in boroles

Zhang, Zuolun and Edkins, Robert M. and Haehnel, Martin and Wehner, Marius and Eichhorn, Antonius and Mailänder, Lisa and Meier, Michael and Brand, Johannes and Brede, Franziska and Müller-Buschbaum, Klaus and Braunschweig, Holger and Marder, Todd B. (2015) Taming the beast : fluoromesityl groups induce a dramatic stability enhancement in boroles. Chemical Science, 6 (10). pp. 5922-5927. ISSN 2041-6520 (https://doi.org/10.1039/c5sc02205c)

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The electron-deficient pentaarylborole 1-(2′,4′,6′-tris(trifluoromethyl)phenyl)-2,3,4,5-tetraphenylborole (1) has been synthesised with the long-term aim of developing borole-based optoelectronic materials. The bulky 2,4,6-tris(trifluoromethyl)phenyl (FMes) group on the boron atom of 1 significantly improves (>600 times) its air stability relative to its mesityl analogue. Moreover, 1 shows good thermal stability without undergoing the dimerisation or isomerisation reactions reported for some other boroles. A triarylborole analogue (2), belonging to a new class of borole with the 3- and 4-positions of the BC4 ring linked by a -(CH2)3- group, has also been synthesised to elucidate the influence of carbon-bonded substituents on the stability of boroles. Both boroles were prepared through the reaction of Li[FMesBF3] and divinyldilithium reagents, a new and general method for borole syntheses. Compound 2 was found to isomerise through a [1,3]-H shift and double-bond rearrangement to an s-trans-butadienylborane species under highly basic (NaOH) conditions. The increased steric crowding at the boron centre through incorporation of the FMes group does not preclude binding of Lewis bases to either 1 or 2, as demonstrated by their fully reversible binding of pyridine. Interestingly, 1 exhibits a blue-shifted absorption spectrum, as compared with its mesityl analogue, a result contrary to previous understanding of the influence of substituent electronics on the absorption spectra of boroles. Most importantly, these boroles exhibit much greater air-stability than previously reported analogues without sacrificing the strong electron-accepting ability that makes boroles so attractive; indeed, 1 and 2 have very low reduction potentials of -1.52 and -1.69 eV vs. Fc/Fc+, respectively.