4-Tetrafluorobenzobarrelene)-η1-((tri-4-fluorophenyl)phosphine)-η1-(2-phenylphenyl)rhodium(I): A Catalyst for the Living Polymerization of Phenylacetylenes

Nicholas Sheng Loong Tan, Gareth L. Nealon, Stephen A. Moggach, Jason M. Lynam, Mark I. Ogden, Massimiliano Massi, Andrew B. Lowe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


(η4-Tetrafluorobenzobarrelene)-η1-((tri-4-fluorophenyl)phosphine)-η1-(2-phenylphenyl)rhodium(I), Rh(tfb)(biph)(PAr3), was prepared and evaluated as a catalyst in the controlled, stereospecific (co)polymerization of arylacetylenes. Following recrystallization, the complex was characterized by single-crystal X-ray diffraction, elemental analysis, and multinuclear NMR spectroscopy, including 103Rh and 31P-103Rh{1H, 103Rh} heteronuclear multiple quantum coherence (HMQC) experiments. Single-crystal X-ray diffraction indicated that Rh(tfb)(biph)(PAr3) adopts a slightly distorted square-planar geometry consistent with previously reported tetracoordinate rhodium(I)-aryl and -vinyl complexes. 103Rh and 2D 31P-103Rh{1H} HMQC NMR spectroscopy confirmed the purity and stability of the new complex in solution. In the presence of excess P(4-FC6H4)3 as a rate modifier, the Rh(I)-aryl catalyst mediated the homopolymerization of phenylacetylene, PhC2H, in a controlled manner as evidenced from the linearity of the pseudo-first-order kinetic plots, the evolution of molecular weight and dispersity, and the quantitative crossover efficiency in a self-blocking experiment. The broader utility of Rh(tfb)(biph)(PAr3) was demonstrated in the polymerization of a series of functional arylacetylenes, including 4-trifluoromethoxyphenylacetylene and 3,4-dichlorophenylacetylene, as well as in the preparation of well-defined AB diblock copolymers of phenylacetylene with the trifluoromethoxy and dichloro derivatives. Computational studies using density functional theory allowed a quantitative comparison between Rh(tfb)(biph)(PAr3) and the 2,5-norbornadiene (nbd) analogue, Rh(nbd)(biph)(PAr3). Results indicated that the former has a lower HOMO energy compared to the nbd derivative and is consistent with the enhanced π-acidity of the tetrafluorobenzobarrelene ligand species. Calculations similarly indicated that Rh(tfb)(biph)(PAr3) has a slightly higher binding affinity for PhC2H. Finally, we highlight the role the biph aryl ligand plays in stabilizing the rhodium complex through a C-H agostic and η2-πinteractions and different steps in the catalyst initiation process.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6191-6203
Number of pages13
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - 13 Jul 2021


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