Reductive amination under hydrogen pressure is a valuable process in organic chemistry to access amine derivatives from aldehydes or ketones. Knölker's complex has been shown to be an efficient iron catalyst in this reaction. To determine the influence of the substituents on the cyclopentadienone ancillary ligand, a series of modified Knölker's complexes was synthesised and fully characterised. These complexes were also transformed into their analogous acetonitrile iron-dicarbonyl complexes. Catalytic activities of these complexes were evaluated and compared in a model reaction. The scope of this reaction is also reported. For mechanistic insights, deuterium-labelling experiments and DFT calculations were undertaken and are also presented. Festival of amination: Two series of modified Knölker's complexes were synthesised and applied in the reductive amination of various carbonyl derivatives with primary or secondary amines (see scheme, TIPS = triisopropylsilyl). For a mechanistic insight, deuterium-labelling experiments and DFT calculations were undertaken and are also presented. Copyright © 2013 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim.
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