Application of Ni(II) complexes of air stable Schiff base functionalized N-heterocyclic carbene ligands as catalysts for the transfer hydrogenation of aliphatic ketones
New air stable N-heterocyclic carbene functionalized Schiff base ligands (L) of the type 2-[-2-[3-(R)imidazol-1-yl]ethyliminomethyl]phenol [R = methyl (2), 2-pyridylmethyl (3)] were synthesized and characterized by NMR, IR, MS, and CHN analysis. Single crystal X-ray structural analysis of their Ni(II) complexes revealed square planar arrangement of the chelating ligands coordinated in tridentate (2, C^N^O) and tetradentate (3, N^C^N^O) modes around the metal. The three new isolated and fully characterized complexes were utilized as catalysts for the catalytic transfer hydrogenation of aliphatic ketones in 2-propanol as solvent and source of hydrogen. Based on 0.2 mol% catalyst concentration, the complexes showed activity for aliphatic ketones and 100% conversion (turnover number of 500) for cyclohexanone and all the aromatic ketones tested.