Catalyzing aldehyde hydrosilylation with a molybdenum(VI) complex: A density functional theory study

Paulo Jorge Costa, Carlos C. Romão, Ana C. Fernandes, Beatriz Royo, Patrícia M. Reis, Maria José Calhorda

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74 Citations (Scopus)


[MoCl2O2] catalyzes the hydrosilylation reaction of aldehydes and ketones, as well as the reduction of other related groups, in apparent contrast to its known behavior as an oxidation catalyst. In this work, the mechanism of this reaction is studied by means of density functional theory calculations using the B3LYP functional complemented by experimental data. We found that the most favorable pathway to the first step, the Si-H activation, is a [2+2] addition to the Mo=O bond, in agreement with previous and related work. The stable intermediate that results is a distorted-square-pyramidal hydride complex. In the following step, the aldehyde approaches this species and coordinates weakly through the oxygen atom. Two alternative pathways can be envisaged: the classical reduction, in which a hydrogen atom migrates to the carbon atom to form an alkoxide. which then proceeds to generate the final silyl ether, or a concerted mechanism involving migration of a hydrogen atom to a carbon atom and of a silyl group to an oxygen atom to generate the silyl ether weakly bound to the molybdenum atom. In this MoVI system, the gas-phase free energies of activation for both approaches are very similar, but if solvent effects are taken into account and HSiMe3 is used as a source of silicon, the classical mechanism is favored. Several unexpected results led us to search for still another route, namely a radical path. The energy involved in this and the classical pathway are similar, which suggests that hydrosilylation of aldehydes and ketones catalyzed by [MoCl 2O2] in acetonitrile may follow a radical pathway, in agreement with experimental results.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3934-3941
Number of pages8
JournalChemistry - A European Journal
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2007


  • CO reduction
  • Density functional calculations
  • Hydrosilylation
  • Molybdenum
  • Radical reactions


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