A series of methylated and octylated pyridinium and quinolinium containing thiourea salts with a chiral 2-indanol substituent are reported. These organocatalysts are positively charged analogues of privileged bis(3,5-trifluoromethyl)phenyl substituted thioureas, and are found to be much more active catalysts despite the absence of an additional hydrogen bond donor or acceptor site (i.e., the presence of a heteroatom-hydrogen or heteroatom). Friedel-Crafts reactions of trans-β-nitorostyrenes with indoles are examined, and good yields and enantioselectivities are obtained. Mechanistic studies indicate that this is a second-order transformation under the employed conditions, and is consistent with the dimer of the thiourea being the active catalyst. Charged organocatalysts, consequently, represent an attractive design strategy for catalyst development.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Generous support from the National Science Foundation (CHE-1361766 and 1665392) is gratefully acknowledged.
© 2017 American Chemical Society.