A metal-free route based on a carbon catalyst to synthesize biphenyls through oxidative dehydrogenation (ODH) of phenyl cyclohexene has been investigated. Among the samples examined, an air-oxidized active carbon exhibits the best activity with a 9.1 × 10−2 h−1 rate constant, yielding 74% biphenyl in 28 h at 140 °C under five bar O2 in anisole. The apparent activation energy is measured as 54.5 kJ⋅mol−1. The extended reaction scope, consisting of 15 differently substituted phenyl cyclohexenes, shows the wide applicability of the proposed method. The catalyst’s good recyclability over six runs suggests this ODH method as a promising route to access the biaryl compounds. In addition, the reaction mechanism is investigated with a combination of X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, functional group blocking, and model compounds of carbon catalysts and is proposed to be based on the redox cycle of the quinoidic groups on the carbon surface. Additional experiments prove that the addition of the catalytic amount of acid (methanesulfonic acid) accelerates the reaction. In addition, Hammett plot examination suggests the formation of a carbonium intermediate, and its possible structure is outlined.
|Number of pages||9|
|Journal||Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America|
|Publication status||Published - 24 Jul 2023|
|MoE publication type||A1 Journal article-refereed|