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Pyrazolium- and 1,2-Cyclopentadiene-Based Ligands as σ-Donors: a Theoretical Study of Electronic Structure and Bonding

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journal contribution
posted on 20.02.2012, 00:00 by Anssi Peuronen, Mikko M. Hänninen, Heikki M. Tuononen
A high-level theoretical investigation of 1,2-cyclopentadiene (4) was performed using density functional theory and wave function methods. The results reveal that, in contrast to earlier assumptions, the ground state of this ephemeral “allene” is carbene-like with a small diradical component. Furthermore, the electronic structure and chemistry of 4 are found to parallel that of 1,2,4,6-cycloheptatetraene: both molecules possess a low-lying excited singlet state with a closed-shell carbenic structure, enabling rich coordination chemistry. Energy decomposition analyses conducted for currently unknown metal complexes of 4 as well as those involving stable carbenes based on the pyrazolium framework (aka “bent allenes” or remote N-heterocyclic carbenes) indicate that all investigated ligands form particularly strong metal–carbon bonds. Most notably, without exocyclic π-type substituents, 4 and pyrazolin-4-ylidenes are the strongest donor ligands examined, in large part because of the energy and shape of their highest occupied molecular orbital. As a whole, the current work opens a new chapter in the chemistry of 1,2-cyclopentadiene, which is hoped to spark renewed interest among experimentalists. In addition, results from the conducted bonding analyses underline that more emphasis should be placed on purely carbocyclic carbenes as unprecedented σ-donor strengths can be realized through this route.