Publication Details (including relevant citation information):
Edwin F. van der Eide and Warren E. Piers
Nature Chemistry 2010, 2, 571-576
Ruthenium-catalysed ring-closing metathesis (RCM) is a powerful technique for the preparation of medium-to-large rings in organic synthesis, but the details of the intimate mechanism are obscure. The dynamic behaviour of an RCM-relevant ruthenacyclobutane complex and its reactivity with ethene were studied using low-temperature NMR spectroscopy to illuminate the mechanism of this widely used reaction. These kinetic and thermodynamic experiments allowed for mapping the energy surface of the key steps in the RCM reaction as mediated by Grubbs-type catalysts for alkene metathesis. The highest barrier along the RCM path is only 65 kJ mol−1, which shows that this catalyst has extremely high inherent activity. Furthermore, this transition state corresponds to that connecting the intermediates in this reaction leading to ring opening of the cyclopentene product. This shows that ring closing is kinetically slightly favoured over ring opening, in addition to being driven by the loss of ethene.
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