Activation of N‑Heterocyclic Carbenes by {BeH<sub>2</sub>} and {Be(H)(Me)} Fragments

A stable three-coordinate dimethylberyllium species coordinated by the 1,3-bis­(2,4,6-trimethylphenyl)­imidazol-2-ylidene (IMes) ligand is readily converted to the corresponding methylhydrido derivative through metathetical reaction with phenylsilane. Attempts to synthesize the corresponding molecular dihydrides are, however, unsuccessful and result in ring opening of an IMes ligand through hydride transfer to the donor carbon atom and the consequent formation of a heterocyclic beryllium organoamide. In agreement with previous calculations, we suggest that this process occurs via a Schlenk-type equilibration process and formation of a four-coordinate bis-NHC beryllium dihydride. These species are not observed, however, as the steric pressure exerted by coordination of the two sterically demanding IMes ligands is sufficient to induce hydride transfer. The latter deduction is supported by the observation that a similar ring-opened product, but derived from methyl and hydride transfer, is available through the introduction of a further equivalent of IMes to the isolated beryllium methyl hydride species. In the latter case the ring-opening process is more facile, which we ascribe to the increased steric pressure achieved upon the formation of four-coordinate beryllium. In a further striking reaction under more forcing thermal conditions, the carbene carbon center of an IMes ligand is observed to be completely eliminated with selective formation of a three-coordinate diamidoberyllium species.