Catalytic oxidation of amine to imine is of intense present interest since imines are important intermediates for the synthesis of fine chemicals, pharmaceuticals, and agricultural chemicals. However, considerable efforts have been made to develop efficient methods for the oxidation of secondary amines to imines, while little attention has until recently been given to the oxidation of primary amines, presumably owing to the high reactivity of generated imines of primary amines that are easily dehydrogenated to nitriles. Herein, we report the oxidative coupling of a series of primary benzylic amines into corresponding imines with dioxygen as the benign oxidant over composite catalysts of TiO2
(anatase)-silicate under visible light irradiation of λ > 460 nm. Visible light response of this system is believed to be as a result of high population of defects and contacts between silicate and anatase crystals in the composite and the strong interaction between benzylic amine and the catalyst. It is found that tuning the intensity and wavelength of the light irradiation and the reaction temperature can remarkably enhance the reaction activity. Water can also act as a green medium for the reaction with an excellent selectivity. This report contributes to the use of readily synthesized, environmentally benign, TiO2
based composite photocatalyst and solar energy to realize the transformation of primary amines to imine compounds.
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