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The anionic malonate-derived N-heterocyclic carbenes (maloNHCs) react cleanly and rapidly with copper chloride to generate the anionic complexes of type [(maloNHC)CuCl]·Li, which crystallize in the solid state either in an oligomeric trimer arrangement or in polymeric helixes depending on the substitution pattern and the solvent. Ten zwitterionic heteroleptic Cu(I) complexes combining the anionic maloNHC and a neutral imidazol-2-ylidene are also obtained in a very selective manner and fully characterized. Whereas the anionic complexes are relatively active catalysts for the hydrosilylation of carbonyl compounds, the zwitterionic complexes reveal to be efficient and extremely robust pre-catalysts for the intramolecular cyclopropanation reaction of a diazo ester and outperform the corresponding cationic Cu(I) complexes with classical imidazol-2-ylidenes.
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