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Carbocations as Secondary Coordination Sphere Z-Type Ligands – Anion-Induced Au(I)/Au(III) Oxidation and Impact on Reactivity

submitted on 08.08.2019, 23:53 and posted on 09.08.2019, 15:17 by Lewis Wilkins, Francois Gabbai
We describe our efforts towards the design of phosphine-based ligands featuring an electrophilic carbocationic moiety positioned to enter the secondary coordination sphere of the phosphine-bound metal atom. Using simple synthetic protocols, we have been able to obtain and fully characterize the complexes [(o-Ph2P(C6H4)Acr)AuCl]+ ([3]+, Acr = 9-N-methylacridinium) and [(o-Ph2P(C6H4)Xan)AuCl]+ ([4]+, Xan = 9-xanthylium). While only weak interactions occur between the gold atom and the methylium centers of these complexes, the more Lewis acidic [4]+ readily reacts with chloride to afford a trivalent phosphine gold dichloride derivative (7) in which the metal atom is covalently bound to the former methylium center. This anion-induced Au(I)/Au(III) oxidation is accompanied by a conversion of the Lewis acidic methylium center in [4]+ into an X-type ligand in 7. This transformation leads us to conclude that the methylium center acts as a latent Z-type ligand poised to increase the Lewis acidity of the gold center, a notion supported by the carbophilic reactivity of these complexes.


National Science Foundation (CHE-1856453)

Welch Foundation (A-1423)

Texas A&M University


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Texas A&M University



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Declaration of Conflict of Interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.