Iridium complexes as highly active catalysts for hydrogen isotope exchange and hydrogen borrowing processes

  • Philippa Kate Owens

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Over the last several decades, the organic chemistry community has become increasingly reliant upon iridium catalysis, with applications reported across a number of research areas. In recent years, the Kerr group has developed a series of iridium complexes, which were found to be excellent catalysts for hydrogen isotope exchange and olefin hydrogenation processes. The work described within this thesis centres upon the expansion of these catalysts' reactivity in hydrogen isotope exchange, as well as the synthesis and application of a series of novel iridium complexes, designed for use in hydrogen borrowing catalysis. Chapter one focuses on the development of three efficient and selective methods for hydrogen isotope exchange. Iridium(I) catalysts previously developed within the group have been employed in the successful deuteration of N-heterocycles, which represent an important and relatively underexplored class of labelling substrates. The labelling of a large range of indole, pyrrole, and quinoline derivatives is reported, in which the regioselectivity can be controlled through careful choice of N-protecting group. Extensive practical and computational mechanistic investigations offered insight into the mechanism of indole C3 labelling, which is believed to proceed via an iridium-indoline intermediate. In chapter two, the design and synthesis of a series of novel unsymmetrical NHC ligands, functionalised with electron donating substituents, is described. The corresponding neutral iridium NHC/halide complexes were prepared, and the steric and electronic properties of the ligands were investigated using a number of techniques. These novel complexes were then tested in the catalysis of hydrogen borrowing processes. Extensive optimisation led to the development of an efficient method for the room-temperature N-alkylation of anilines. This methodology was also expanded to include the synthesis of N-heterocycles viaintramolecular C-N bond formation, albeit using more forcing conditions. Lastly, a small series of chiral NHC ligands was designed, and their corresponding iridium complexes prepared and used in a preliminary screening of asymmetric hydrogen borrowing.
Date of Award26 Jan 2018
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University Of Strathclyde
SponsorsEPSRC (Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council)
SupervisorWilliam Kerr (Supervisor) & Nick Tomkinson (Supervisor)

Cite this