Molybdenum Carbonyl Assisted Reductive Tetramerization of CO by Activated Magnesium(I) Compounds: Squarate Dianion vs. Metallo-Ketene Formation

22 March 2023, Version 1
This content is a preprint and has not undergone peer review at the time of posting.


Reactions of a dimagnesium(I) compound, [{(DipNacnac)Mg}2] (DipNacnac = [HC(MeCNDip)2]-, Dip = 2,6-diisopropylphenyl), pre-activated by coordination with simple Lewis bases (4-dimethylaminopyridine, DMAP; or TMC, :C(MeNCMe)2), with 1 atmosphere of CO in the presence of one equivalent of Mo(CO)6 at room temperature, led to the reductive tetramerisation of the diatomic molecule. When the reactions were carried out at room temperature, there is an apparent competition between the formation of magnesium squarate, [{(DipNacnac)Mg}(C4O4){-Mg(DipNacnac)}]2, and magnesium metallo-ketene products, [{(DipNacnac)Mg}{-(C4O4)Mo(CO)5}{Mg(D)(DipNacnac)}], which are not inter-convertible. Repeating the reactions at 80 °C led to the selective formation of the magnesium squarate, implying that this is the thermodynamic product. In an analogous reaction, in which THF is the Lewis base, only the metallo-ketene complex, [{(DipNacnac)Mg}{-(C4O4)Mo(CO)5}{Mg(THF)(DipNacnac)}] is formed at room temperature, while a complex product mixture is obtained at elevated temperature. In contrast, treatment of a 1:1 mixture of the guanidinato magnesium(I) complex, [(Priso)Mg‒Mg(Priso)] (Priso = [Pri2NC(NDip)2]-), and Mo(CO)6, with CO gas in a benzene/THF solution, gave a low yield of the squarate complex, [{(Priso)(THF)Mg}(C4O4){-Mg(THF)(Priso)}]2, at 80 °C. Computational analyses of the electronic structure of squarate and metallo-ketene product types corroborate the bonding proposed, from experimental data, for the C4O4 fragments of these systems.


carbon monoxide
reductive homologation

Supplementary materials

Supplementary Data
Full synthetic, spectroscopic and crystallographic details for new compounds; and full details and references for the DFT calculations can be found in the Electronic Supporting Information.


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