Squaramide–quaternary ammonium salt is illustrated as a simple, tunable, and competent metal-free binary catalytic platform for the atom-economic conversion of epoxides and isocyanates into oxazolidinones. Although, various metal catalysts have been employed for the title reaction, application of organocatalysis is scarce. At first, a rational survey of catalytic activity of several air-stable and architecturally distinct squaramides was undertaken. Thereafter, the impact on catalytic capability of different parameters, such as temperature, catalyst loading, and nature of nucleophiles, was examined. This binary organocatalytic system for the oxazolidinone synthesis, composed of a squaramide entity along with a suitable halide anion, was applied to the challenging conversion of a plethora of alkyl- and aryl-substituted epoxides– including disubstituted and enantioenriched ones– and isocyanates into the corresponding oxazolidinones in high-to-excellent yields. The time-dependent formation of oxazolidinone from epoxide and isocyanate was monitored by FTIR-ATR and 1H NMR spectroscopy and the scalability of this process was also described. In light of 1H NMR experiment, a hydrogen-bonding/anion-binding mechanism was proposed wherein the nucleophilic ring-opening operation, and oxo- and carbamate-anions stabilization occur cooperatively towards isocyanate fixation.
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