Cycloadditions, such as the [4+2] Diels-Alder reaction to form six-membered rings, are among the most powerful and widely used methods in synthetic chemistry. The analogous [2+2] alkene cycloaddition to synthesize cyclobutanes is kinetically accessible by photochemical methods, but the substrate scope and functional group tolerance are limited. Here, we report iron-catalyzed intermolecular [2+2] cycloaddition of unactivated alkenes and cross cycloaddition of alkenes and dienes as regio- and stereoselective routes to cyclobutanes. Through rational ligand design, development of this base metal-catalyzed method expands the chemical space accessible from abundant hydrocarbon feedstocks.
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