The asymmetric hydrocyanation of vinylarenes was investigated using hydrogen cyanide (HCN) in the presence of 5 mol% of a catalyst prepared from a phenol-derived chiral phosphine-phosphite ligand and bis(cyclooctadiene)nickel [Ni(cod)2]. The reactions were performed in tetrahydrofuran (THF) at room temperature to give exclusively the branched nitriles with superior enantioselectivities of 88-99% ee for vinylarenes and 74-94% ee for vinylheteroarenes, respectively. Using styrene as a model substrate it was shown that the catalyst loading could be decreased to 0.42 mol% without any loss of selectivity (88% ee). The structure of the pre-catalyst, i.e., a tetrahedral Ni(0)(P,P-chelate)(cod) complex, was proven by X-ray and NMR analysis. Additional insight into the reaction course was gained by monitoring the hydrocyanation of styrene-d8 by means of 2D NMR spectroscopy.
- asymmetric synthesis
- hydrogen cyanide (HCN)