American Chemical Society
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Ruthenium-Catalyzed Cyclization of Epoxide with a Tethered Alkyne:  Formation of Ketene Intermediates via Oxygen Transfer from Epoxides to Terminal Alkynes

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journal contribution
posted on 2004-06-09, 00:00 authored by Reniguntala J. Madhushaw, Ming-Yuan Lin, Shariar Md. Abu Sohel, Rai-Shung Liu
Treatment of (o-ethynyl)phenyl epoxides with TpRuPPh3(CH3CN)2PF6 (10 mol %) in hot toluene (100 °C, 3−6 h) gave 2-naphthols or 1-alkylidene-2-indanones very selectively with isolated yields exceeding 72%, depending on the nature of the epoxide substituents. Surprisingly, the reaction intermediate proved to be a ruthenium-π-ketene species that can be trapped efficiently by alcohol to give an ester compound. This phenomenon indicates a novel oxygen transfer from epoxide to its terminal alkyne catalyzed by a ruthenium complex. A plausible mechanism is proposed on the basis of reaction products and the deuterium-labeling experiment. The 2-naphthol products are thought to derive from 6-endo-dig cyclization of (o-alkenyl)phenyl ketene intermediates, whereas 1-alkylidene-2-indanones are given from the 5-endo-dig cyclization pathway.