Trioxatriangulenium (TOTA+) as a robust carbon-based Lewis acid in frustrated Lewis pair chemistry

Aslam C. Shaikh, José M. Veleta, Jules Moutet, Thomas L. Gianetti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


We report the reactivity between the water stable Lewis acidic trioxatriangulenium ion (TOTA+) and a series of Lewis bases such as phosphines and N-heterocyclic carbene (NHC). The nature of the Lewis acid-base interaction was analyzedviavariable temperature (VT) NMR spectroscopy, single-crystal X-ray diffraction, UV-visible spectroscopy, and DFT calculations. While small and strongly nucleophilic phosphines, such as PMe3, led to the formation of a Lewis acid-base adduct, frustrated Lewis pairs (FLPs) were observed for sterically hindered bases such as P(tBu)3. The TOTA+-P(tBu)3FLP was characterized as an encounter complex, and found to promote the heterolytic cleavage of disulfide bonds, formaldehyde fixation, dehydrogenation of 1,4-cyclohexadiene, heterolytic cleavage of the C-Br bonds, and interception of Staudinger reaction intermediates. Moreover, TOTA+and NHC were found to first undergo single-electron transfer (SET) to form [TOTA]·[NHC]˙+, which was confirmedviaelectron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) spectroscopy, and subsequently form a [TOTA-NHC]+adduct or a mixture of products depending the reaction conditions used.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4841-4849
Number of pages9
JournalChemical Science
Issue number13
StatePublished - Apr 7 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry


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