C−H Activation of Inert Arenes using a Photochemically Activated Guanidinato-Magnesium(I) Compound

Jeremy C. Mullins, K. Yuvaraj, Yixiao Jiang, Gerard P. Van Trieste, Asim Maity, David C. Powers, Cameron Jones

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UV irradiation of solutions of a guanidinate coordinated dimagnesium(I) compound, [{(Priso)Mg}2] 3 (Priso=[(DipN)2CNPri2], Dip=2,6-diisopropylphenyl), in either benzene, toluene, the three isomers of xylene, or mesitylene, leads to facile activation of an aromatic C−H bond of the solvent in all cases, and formation of aryl/hydride bridged magnesium(II) products, [{(Priso)Mg}2(μ-H)(μ-Ar)] 4–9. In contrast to similar reactions reported for β-diketiminate coordinated counterparts of 3, these C−H activations proceed with little regioselectivity, though they are considerably faster. Reaction of 3 with an excess of the pyridine, p-NC5H4But (pyBut), gave [(Priso)Mg(pyButH)(pyBut)2] 10, presumably via reduction of the pyridine to yield a radical intermediate, [(Priso)Mg(pyBut⋅)(pyBut)2] 11, which then abstracts a proton from the reaction solvent or a reactant. DFT calculations suggest two possible pathways to the observed arene C−H activations. One of these involves photochemical cleavage of the Mg−Mg bond of 3, generating magnesium(I) doublet radicals, (Priso)Mg⋅. These then doubly reduce the arene substrate to give “Birch-like” products, which subsequently rearrange via C−H activation of the arene. Circumstantial evidence for the photochemical generation of transient magnesium radical species includes the fact that irradiation of a cyclohexane solution of 3 leads to an intramolecular aliphatic C−H activation process and formation of an alkyl-bridged magnesium(II) species, [{Mg(μ-Priso−H)}2] 12. Furthermore, irradiation of a 1 : 1 mixture of 3 and the β-diketiminato dimagnesium(I) compound, [{(DipNacnac)Mg}2] (DipNacnac=[HC(MeCNDip)2]), effects a “scrambling” reaction, and the near quantitative formation of an unsymmetrical dimagnesium(I) compound, [(Priso)Mg−Mg(DipNacnac)] 13. Finally, the EPR spectrum (77 K) of a glassed solution of UV irradiated 3 is dominated by a broad featureless signal, indicating the presence of a doublet radical species.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere202202103
Number of pages11
JournalChemistry - A European Journal
Issue number65
Publication statusPublished - 21 Nov 2022


  • C−H activation
  • low oxidation state
  • magnesium(I)
  • photochemical
  • radical

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