π-Acidic alkene (olefin) ligands positively influence Pd-catalysed cross-coupling processes, interacting with both palladium(0) and palladium(II) species, in some cases stabilising key catalytic intermediates. Rates of oxidative addition and reductive elimination are both affected. In certain cases, β-hydrogen elimination can be slowed down by π-acidic alkenes, which opens up new reaction pathways (e.g. interception of σ-alkylpalladium(II) species by appropriate nucleophiles). π-Acidic alkene ligands can act independently or in a synergistic fashion with another two-electron donor ligand (e.g. amine, phosphine or N-heterocyclic carbene). The purpose of this perspective article is to highlight the impressive results that can be obtained using π-acidic alkene ligands, with a particular focus on dibenzylidene acetone (dba) derivatives. Other types of alkene ligands, e.g. macrocyclic alkenes, are also discussed.
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