Mixtures of 2,4- and 2,5-disubstituted zirconacyclopentadienes were obtained by the reductive dimerisation of terminal alkynes using the Cp2ZrCl2/lanthanum system. Reactions of dihalophosphines with these mixtures afforded selectively the corresponding 2,4-disubstituted phospholes and 1,4-disubstituted butadienes. A new series of phospholes was characterized by multi-nuclear NMR spectroscopy and X-ray analysis. A possible explanation for the observed selectivity was obtained from X-ray studies and DFT analysis of the intermediate zirconacyclopentadienes.
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