CO Reductive Oligomerization by a Divalent Thulium Complex and CO2-Induced Functionalization

29 October 2021, Version 1
This content is a preprint and has not undergone peer review at the time of posting.


To date, only a very limited number of complexes based on low-valent main group or f-block elements have allowed the reductive coupling of CO molecules to afford multicarbon oxygenates. Herein, we described the reactivity of the divalent thulium complex [Tm(Cpttt)2] (Cpttt = 1,2,4-tris(tert-butyl)cyclopentadienyl) towards CO, leading to selective CO reductive dimerization and trimerization into ethynediolate (C2) and ketenecarboxylate (C3) complexes, respectively. Quantum chemical (DFT) calculations were performed to shed light on the elementary steps of CO homologation and support a stepwise chain growth from the C2 to the C3 product upon addition of extra CO. The attempted decoordination of the ethynediolate frag-ment by treatment with Me3SiI led to dimerization and rearrangement into a 3,4-dihydroxyfuran-2-one complex. Investiga-tion of the reactivity of the C2 and C3 complexes towards other electrophiles led to unusual functionalization reactions: while the reaction of the ketenecarboxylate C3 complex with electrophiles yielded new multicarbon oxygenated complexes, the addition of CO2 to the ethynediolate C2 complex resulted in the formation of a very reactive intermediate, allowing C–H activation of the toluene solvent. This original intermolecular reactivity corresponds to an unprecedented functionalization of CO-derived ligands, which is induced by CO2.


Small molecule activation
CO2 functionalization
C–H activation
CO reductive coupling

Supplementary materials

Supporting information for CO Reductive Oligomerization by a Divalent Thulium Complex and CO2-Induced Functionalization
Full experimental details, 1H NMR spectra, IR spectra, X-ray crystallographic details and DFT calculations.


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