Probing Stereoselectivity in Ring-Opening Metathesis Polymerization Mediated by Cyclometalated Ruthenium-Based Catalysts: A Combined Experimental and Computational Study

The microstructures of polymers produced by ring-opening metathesis polymerization (ROMP) with cyclometalated Ru-carbene metathesis catalysts were investigated. A strong bias for a cis,syndiotactic microstructure with minimal head-to-tail bias was observed. In instances where trans errors were introduced, it was determined that these regions were also syndiotactic. Furthermore, hypothetical reaction intermediates and transition structures were analyzed computationally. Combined experimental and computational data support a reaction mechanism in which cis,syndio-selectivity is a result of stereogenic metal control, while microstructural errors are predominantly due to alkylidene isomerization via rotation about the RuC double bond.