Lewis acids; lewis bases; frustrated lewis pairs; catalysis; small-molecule activation; boranes; phosphines.
The interaction of a Lewis acid with a Lewis base results in the formation of a Lewis acid–base adduct. Understanding Lewis acids and bases is central to conceptualizing chemical interactions and constitutes a major portion of metal–ligand chemistry. Sterically encumbered/constrained Lewis pairs cannot form acid–base adducts, but such ‘Frustrated Lewis Pairs’ (FLPs), with their unquenched electronic demands can be elegantly used to simultaneously react with a third species, resulting in unusual reactivity of small molecules. Such unusual reactions, explored only in the last few years, have found several applications, e.g., heterolytic splitting of H2, activation of small molecules (CO2, N2O, etc.). FLPs have opened new opportunities in synthetic chemistry, covering organic, main group as well as transition metal chemistry. The design strategies adopted for FLP systems and their unique reactivity are discussed here.