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J Am Chem Soc. 2004 Aug 4;126(30):9318-25.

Nitro-substituted Hoveyda-Grubbs ruthenium carbenes: enhancement of catalyst activity through electronic activation.

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Institutes of Organic Chemistry and Physical Chemistry, Polish Academy of Sciences, 01-224 Warsaw, Poland.


The design, synthesis, stability, and catalytic activity of nitro-substituted Hoveyda-Grubbs metathesis catalysts are described. The highly active and stable meta- and para-substituted complexes are attractive from a practical point of view. These catalysts operate in very mild conditions and can be successfully applied in various types of metathesis [ring-closing metathesis, cross-metathesis (CM), and enyne metathesis]. Although the presence of a NO(2) group leads to catalysts that are dramatically more active than both the second-generation Grubbs's catalyst and the phosphine-free Hoveyda's carbene, enhancement of reactivity is somewhat lower than that observed for a sterically activated Hoveyda-Grubbs catalyst. Attempts to combine two modes of activation, steric and electronic, result in severely decreasing a catalyst's stability. The present findings illustrate that different Ru catalysts turned out to be optimal for different applications. Whereas phosphine-free carbenes are catalysts of choice for CM of various electron-deficient substrates, they exhibit lower reactivity in the formation of tetrasubstituted double bonds. This demonstrates that no single catalyst outperforms all others in all possible applications.

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