Mechanism of Nickel-Catalyzed Selective C–N Bond Activation in Suzuki-Miyaura Cross-Coupling of Amides: A Theoretical Investigation

In textbooks, the low reactivity of amides is attributed to the strong resonance stability. However, Garg and co-workers recently reported the Ni-catalyzed activation of robust amide C–N bonds, leading to conversions of amides into esters, ketones, and other amides with high selectivity. Among them, the Ni-catalyzed Suzuki-Miyaura coupling (SMC) of N-benzyl-N-tert-butoxycarbonyl (N-Bn-N-Boc) amides with pinacolatoboronate (PhBpin) was performed in the presence of K3PO4 and water. Water significantly enhanced the reaction.

Mechanistic Insight into the Nickel-Catalyzed Cross-Coupling of Aryl Phosphates with Arylboronic Acids: Potassium Phosphate is Not a Spectator Base but is Involved in the Transmetalation Step in the Suzuki–Miyaura Reaction

Spectator or actor? Density functional theory calculations were performed to examine the role of the base in the nickel-catalyzed cross-coupling of aryl phosphates with arylboronic acids. Potassium phosphate was found to not act as a spectator base but was involved in the transmetalation step, as shown by a lower barrier than that of a base-free process, owing to the activation of the carbonboron bond by the base. Further experimental observations support the theoretical findings.