Synthetic applications of nonmetal catalysts for homogeneous oxidations

  • Adam W
  • Saha-Möller C
  • Ganeshpure P
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Nonmetal oxidation catalysts have gained much attention in recent years. The reason for this surge in activity is 2-fold: On one hand, a number of such catalysts has become readily accessible; on the other hand, such catalysts are quite resistant toward self-oxidation and compatible under aerobic and aqueous reaction conditions. In this review, we have focused on five nonmetal catalytic systems which have attained prominence in the oxidation field in view of their efficacy and their potential for future development; stoichiometric cases have been mentioned to provide overview and scope. Such nonmetal oxidation catalysts include the alpha-halo carbonyl compounds 1, ketones 2, imines 3, iminium salts 4, and nitroxyl radicals 5. In combination with a suitable oxygen source (H2O2, KHSO5, NaOCl), these catalysts serve as precursors to the corresponding oxidants, namely, the perhydrates I, dioxiranes II, oxaziridines III, oxaziridinium ions IV, and finally oxoammonium ions V. A few of the salient features about these nonmetal, catalytic systems shall be reiterated in this summary. The first class entails the alpha-halo ketones, which catalyze the oxidation of a variety of organic substrates [figure: see text] by hydrogen peroxide as the oxygen source. The perhydrates I, formed in situ by the addition of hydrogen peroxide to the alpha-halo ketones, are quite strong electrophilic oxidants and expectedly transfer an oxygen atom to diverse nucleophilic acceptors. Thus, alpha-halo ketones have been successfully employed for catalytic epoxidation, heteroatom (S, N) oxidation, and arene oxidation. Although high diastereoselectivities have been achieved by these nonmetal catalysts, no enantioselective epoxidation and sulfoxidation have so far been reported. Consequently, it is anticipated that catalytic oxidations by perhydrates hold promise for further development, especially, and should ways be found to transfer the oxygen atom enantioselectively. The second class, namely, the dioxiranes, has been extensively used during the last two decades as a convenient oxidant in organic synthesis. These powerful and versatile oxidizing agents are readily available from the appropriate ketones by their treatment [figure: see text] with potassium monoperoxysulfate. The oxidations may be performed either under stoichiometric or catalytic conditions; the latter mode of operation is featured in this review. In this case, a variety of structurally diverse ketones have been shown to catalyze the dioxirane-mediated epoxidation of alkenes by monoperoxysulfate as the oxygen source. By employing chiral ketones, highly enantioselective (up to 99% ee) epoxidations have been developed, of which the sugar-based ketones are so far the most effective. Reports on catalytic oxidations by dioxiranes other than epoxidations are scarce; nevertheless, fructose-derived ketones have been successfully employed as catalysts for the enantioselective CH oxidation in vic diols to afford the corresponding optically active alpha-hydroxy ketones. To date, no catalytic asymmetric sulfoxidations by dioxiranes appear to have been documented in the literature, an area of catalytic dioxirane chemistry that merits attention. A third class is the imines; their reaction with hydrogen peroxide or monoperoxysulfate affords oxaziridines. These relatively weak electrophilic oxidants only manage to oxidize electron-rich substrates such as enolates, silyl enol ethers, sulfides, selenides, and amines; however, the epoxidation of alkenes has been achieved with activated oxaziridines produced from perfluorinated imines. Most of the oxidations by in-situ-generated oxaziridines have been performed stoichiometrically, with the exception of sulfoxidations. When chiral imines are used as catalysts, optically active sulfoxides are obtained in good ee values, a catalytic asymmetric oxidation by oxaziridines that merits further exploration. The fourth class is made up by the iminium ions, which with monoperoxysulfate lead to the corresponding oxaziridinium ions, structurally similar to the above oxaziridine oxidants except they possess a much more strongly electrophilic oxygen atom due to the positively charged ammonium functionality. Thus, oxaziridinium ions effectively execute besides sulfoxidation and amine oxidation the epoxidation of alkenes under catalytic conditions. As expected, chiral iminium salts catalyze asymmetric epoxidations; however, only moderate enantioselectivities have been obtained so far. Although asymmetric sulfoxidation has been achieved by using stoichiometric amounts of isolated optically active oxaziridinium salts, iminium-ion-catalyzed asymmetric sulf-oxidations have not been reported to date, which offers attractive opportunities for further work. The fifth and final class of nonmetal catalysts concerns the stable nitroxyl-radical derivatives such as TEMPO, which react with the common oxidizing agents (sodium hypochlorite, monoperoxysulfate, peracids) to generate oxoammonium ions. The latter are strong oxidants that chemoselectively and efficiently perform the CH oxidation in alcohols to produce carbonyl compounds rather than engage in the transfer of their oxygen atom to the substrate. Consequently, oxoammonium ions behave quite distinctly compared to the previous four classes of oxidants in that their catalytic activity entails formally a dehydrogenation, one of the few effective nonmetal-based catalytic transformations of alcohols to carbonyl products. Since less than 1 mol% of nitroxyl radical is required to catalyze the alcohol oxidation by the inexpensive sodium hypochlorite as primary oxidant under mild reaction conditions, this catalytic process holds much promise for future practical applications.

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  • Waldemar Adam

  • Chantu R. Saha-Möller

  • Pralhad A. Ganeshpure

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