Olefin metathesis is a broadly employed reaction with applications that range from fine chemicals to materials and petrochemicals. The design and investigation of olefin metathesis catalysts have been ongoing for over half a century, with advancements made in terms of activity, stability, and selectivity. Immobilization of organometallic complexes onto solid supports such as silica or alumina is a promising strategy for catalyst heterogenization, often resulting in increased activity and stability. Consequently, a broad range of early transition metal catalysts bearing alkyl, oxide/alkoxide, and amide ligands have been grafted onto silica and their reactivities investigated. Herein, we report a series of silica-supported tungsten and molybdenum dimers (X3MMX3, where M = W and Mo; X = neopentyl, tert-butoxide, and dimethyl amide) and their reactivities toward catalytic olefin metathesis. Dynamic nuclear polarization (DNP)-enhanced solid-state nuclear magnetic resonance (SSNMR), diffuse reflectance infrared Fourier transform (DRIFT), UV resonance Raman, and X-ray absorption (XAS) spectroscopies suggest that upon heterogenization the dimers bind to the surface in a monopodal fashion, with the MM triple bond remaining intact. These structural assignments were further corroborated by density functional theory (DFT) calculations. While the homogeneous dimer counterparts are inert, the supported low-valent alkyl W and Mo dimers become active for the disproportionative self-metathesis of propylene to ethylene and butenes and 4-nonene to 4-octene and 5-decene under mild conditions. The lack of activity observed for the free and supported tert-butoxide and dimethyl amide dimers likely suggests that the neopentyl groups are necessary for the formation of a putative alkylidene active species. The difference in reactivity between the free and supported dimers could be explained either by the lowering of the activation barrier of the complex through the electronic effects of the surface or by site isolation of catalytically relevant reactive intermediates.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
- Organic Chemistry
- Inorganic Chemistry