Insights into functional-group-tolerant polymerization catalysis with phosphine-sulfonamide palladium (II) complexes

Zhongbao Jian, Laura Falivene, Philipp Wucher, Philipp Roesle, Lucia Caporaso, Luigi Cavallo, Inigo Gçttker-Schnetmann, Stefan Mecking

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23 Scopus citations


Two series of cationic palladium(II) methyl complexes {[(2-MeOC6H4)2PC6H4SO2NHC6H3(2,6-R1,R2)]PdMe}2[A]2 (X1+-A: R1=R2=H: H1+-A; R1=R2=CH(CH3)2: DIPP1+-A; R1=H, R2=CF3: CF31+-A; A=BF4 or SbF6) and neutral palladium(II) methyl complexes {[(2-MeOC6H4)2PC6H4SO2NC6H3(2,6-R1,R2)]PdMe(L)} (X1-acetone: L=acetone; X1-dmso: L=dimethyl sulfoxide; X1-pyr: L=pyridine) chelated by a phosphine-sulfonamide were synthesized and fully characterized. Stoichiometric insertion of methyl acrylate (MA) into all complexes revealed that a 2,1 regiochemistry dominates in the first insertion of MA. Subsequently, for the cationic complexes X1+-A, β-H elimination from the 2,1-insertion product X2+-AMA-2,1 is overwhelmingly favored over a second MA insertion to yield two major products X4+-AMA-1,2 and X5+-AMA. By contrast, for the weakly coordinated neutral complexes X1-acetone and X1-dmso, a second MA insertion of the 2,1-insertion product X2MA-2,1 is faster than β-H elimination and gives X3MA as major products. For the strongly coordinated neutral complexes X1-pyr, no second MA insertion and no β-H elimination (except for DIPP2-pyrMA-2,1) were observed for the 2,1-insertion product X2-pyrMA-2,1. The cationic complexes X1+-A exhibited high catalytic activities for ethylene dimerization, affording butenes (C4) with a high selectivity of up to 97.7% (1-butene: 99.3%). Differences in activities and selectivities suggest that the phosphine-sulfonamide ligands remain coordinated to the metal center in a bidentate fashion in the catalytically active species. By comparison, the neutral complexes X1-acetone, X1-dmso, and X1-pyr showed very low activity towards ethylene to give traces of oligomers. DFT analyses taking into account the two possible coordination modes (O or N) of the sulfonamide ligand for the cationic system CF31+ suggested that the experimentally observed high activity in ethylene dimerization is the result of a facile first ethylene insertion into the O-coordinated PdMe isomer and a subsequent favored β-H elimination from the N-coordinated isomer formed by isomerization of the insertion product. Steric hindrance by the N-aryl substituent in the neutral systems CF31 and H1 appears to contribute significantly to a higher barrier of insertion, which accounts for the experimentally observed low activity towards ethylene oligomerization. Coordination switch: Analysis and comparison of the reactivity of new neutral and cationic PdII phosphine-sulfonamide complexes towards olefins in stoichiometric insertion and pressure-reactor experiments, complemented by DFT studies, elucidated the decisive factors for their catalytic behavior, including N versus O coordination modes (see figure).
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2062-2075
Number of pages14
JournalChemistry - A European Journal
Issue number5
StatePublished - Dec 9 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry


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