American Chemical Society
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An Unusual Nickel−Copper-Mediated Alkyne Homocoupling Reaction for the Active-Template Synthesis of [2]Rotaxanes

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posted on 2010-05-05, 00:00 authored by James D. Crowley, Stephen M. Goldup, Nicholas D. Gowans, David A. Leigh, Vicki E. Ronaldson, Alexandra M. Z. Slawin
We report on an unusual Ni-/Cu-mediated alkyne homocoupling reaction, directed through the cavity of a bidentate macrocyclic ligand by chelated metal ions to furnish [2]rotaxanes in excellent (up to 95%) yields. This is the first active metal template reaction to employ an octahedral coordination geometry metal ion, Ni(II), and the study provides some interesting mechanistic insights into the mixed bimetallic reaction mechanism. The mixed-metal catalyst system was discovered serendipitously when Cu(I) was added to a Ni(II)-catalyzed alkyne homocoupling reaction in an attempt to facilitate chloride−acetylide ligand exchange. The role of Cu(I) in the reaction is, in fact, quite different from that originally intended. The effectiveness of having both nickel and copper present can be rationalized by the nature of a π-activated, σ-bonded, bimetallic intermediate in which the substitution of Ni(II) for one Cu(I) ion in the classic bimetallic Glaser reaction mechanism apparently aids reductive elimination of the acetylide ligands. The system may prove useful for the development of general mixed-metal protocols for catalytic alkyne coupling reactions as well as being a highly effective route to rotaxanes with bis-acetylene threads, which are potentially useful for materials applications (insulated molecular wires) and in molecular machines (rigid, nonfolding axles).