Catalyst Design Principles Enabling Intermolecular Alkene-Diene [2+2] Cycloaddition and Depolymerization Reactions

Megan Mohadjer Beromi, Jarod M. Younker, Hongyu Zhong, Tyler P. Pabst, Paul J. Chirik

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14 Scopus citations


Aryl-substituted pyridine(diimine) iron complexes promote the catalytic [2 + 2] cycloadditions of alkenes and dienes to form vinylcyclobutanes as well as the oligomerization of butadiene to generate divinyl(oligocyclobutane), a microstructure of poly(butadiene) that is chemically recyclable. A systematic study on a series of iron butadiene complexes as well as their ruthenium congeners has provided insights into the essential features of the catalyst that promotes these cycloaddition reactions. Structural and computational studies on iron butadiene complexes identified that the structural rigidity of the tridentate pincer enables rare s-trans diene coordination. This geometry, in turn, promotes dissociation of one of the alkene arms of the diene, opening a coordination site for the incoming substrate to engage in oxidative cyclization. Studies on ruthenium congeners established that this step occurs without redox involvement of the pyridine(diimine) chelate. Cyclobutane formation occurs from a metallacyclic intermediate by reversible C(sp3)-C(sp3) reductive coupling. A series of labeling experiments with pyridine(diimine) iron and ruthenium complexes support the favorability of accessing the +3 oxidation state to trigger C(sp3)-C(sp3) reductive elimination, involving spin crossover from S = 0 to S = 1. The high density of states of iron and the redox-active pyridine(diimine) ligand facilitate this reactivity under thermal conditions. For the ruthenium congener, the pyridine(diimine) remains redox innocent and irradiation with blue light was required to promote the analogous reactivity. These structure-activity relationships highlight important design principles for the development of next generation catalysts for these cycloaddition reactions as well as the promotion of chemical recycling of cycloaddition polymers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)17793-17805
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number42
StatePublished - Oct 27 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Catalysis
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry


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