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Cyclic Ruthenium-Alkylidene Catalysts for Ring-Expansion Metathesis Polymerization

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posted on 24.09.2008 by Andrew J. Boydston, Yan Xia, Julia A. Kornfield, Irina A. Gorodetskaya, Robert H. Grubbs
A series of cyclic Ru-alkylidene catalysts have been prepared and evaluated for their efficiency in ring-expansion metathesis polymerization (REMP). The catalyst structures feature chelating tethers extending from one N-atom of an N-heterocyclic carbene (NHC) ligand to the Ru metal center. The catalyst design is modular in nature, which provided access to Ru complexes having varying tether lengths, as well as electronically different NHC ligands. Structural impacts of the tether length were unveiled through 1H NMR spectroscopy as well as single-crystal X-ray analyses. Catalyst activities were evaluated via polymerization of cyclooctene, and key data are provided regarding propagation rates, intramolecular chain transfer, and catalyst stabilities, three areas necessary for the efficient synthesis of cyclic poly(olefin)s via REMP. From these studies, it was determined that while increasing the tether length of the catalyst leads to enhanced rates of polymerization, shorter tethers were found to facilitate intramolecular chain transfer and release of catalyst from the polymer. Electronic modification of the NHC via backbone saturation was found to enhance polymerization rates to a greater extent than did homologation of the tether. Overall, cyclic Ru complexes bearing 5- or 6-carbon tethers and saturated NHC ligands were found to be readily synthesized, bench-stable, and highly active catalysts for REMP.