The direct cross-coupling reaction of arenes promoted by Pd(OAc) 2 is synthetically very useful because the preparation of a haloarene as a substrate is not necessary. This reaction interestingly only occurs in the presence of benzoquinone (BQ). DFT, MP2 to MP4(SDQ), and CCSD(T) computations elucidated the whole mechanism of this cross-coupling reaction and the key roles of BQ. The first step is the heterolytic C-H activation of benzo[h]quinoline (HBzq) by Pd(OAc)2 to afford Pd(Bzq)(OAc). The Pd center is more electron-rich in Pd(Bzq)(OAc) than in Pd(OAc)2. Hence, BQ easily coordinates to Pd(Bzq)(OAc) with a low activation barrier to afford a distorted square planar complex Pd(Bzq)(OAc)(BQ) which is as stable as Pd(Bzq)(OAc). Then, the second C-H activation of benzene occurs with a moderate activation barrier and small endothermicity. The final step is the reductive elimination which occurs with little barrier. The rate-determining step of the overall reaction is the second C-H activation whose activation barrier is considerably higher than that of the first C-H activation. BQ plays a key role in accelerating this reaction; (i) the phenyl group must change its position a lot to reach the transition state in the reductive elimination from the square planar intermediate Pd(Ph)(Bzq)(OAc) but only moderately in the reaction from the trigonal bipyramidal intermediate Pd(Ph)(Bzq)(OAc)(BQ). This is because BQ suppresses the phenyl group to take a position at a distance from the Bzq. (ii) BQ stabilizes the transition state and the product complex by the back-donation interaction. In the absence of BQ, the reductive elimination step has a much higher activation barrier. Though it was expected that the BQ coordination accelerates the second C-H activation of benzene by decreasing the electron density of Pd in Pd(Bzq)(OAc), the activation barrier of this second C-H activation is little influenced by BQ.
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