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Water-Soluble Phosphine Capable of Dissolving Elemental Gold: The Missing Link between 1,3,5-Triaza-7-phosphaadamantane (PTA) and Verkade’s Ephemeral Ligand

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posted on 2015-04-29, 00:00 authored by Sergey N. Britvin, Andriy Lotnyk
We herein describe a tricyclic phosphine with previously unreported tris­(homoadamantane) cage architecture. That water-soluble, air- and thermally stable ligand, 1,4,7-triaza-9-phosphatricyclo­[,9]­tridecane (hereinafter referred to as CAP) exhibits unusual chemical behavior toward gold and gold compounds: it readily reduces Au­(III) to Au(0), promotes oxidative dissolution of nanocrystalline gold(0) with the formation of water-soluble trigonal CAP–Au­(I) complexes, and displaces cyanide from [Au­(CN)2] affording triangular [Au­(CAP)3]+ cation. From the stereochemical point of view, CAP can be regarded as an intermediate between 1,3,5-triaza-7-phosphaadamantane (PTA) and very unstable aminophosphine synthesized by Verkade’s group: hexahydro-2a,4a,6a-triaza-6b-phosphacyclopenta­[cd]­pentalene. The chemical properties of CAP are likely related to its anomalous stereoelectronic profile: combination of strong electron-donating power (Tolman’s electronic parameter 2056.8 cm–1) with the low steric demand (cone angle of 109°). CAP can be considered as macrocyclic counterpart of PTA with the electron-donating power approaching that of strongest known phosphine electron donors such as P­(t-Bu)3 and PCy3. Therefore, CAP as sterically undemanding and electron-rich ligand populates the empty field on the stereoelectronic map of phosphine ligands: the niche between the classic tertiary phosphines and the sterically undemanding aminophosphines.