Synthetic routes to a coordinatively unsaturated ruthenium complex supported by a tripodal, protic bis(N-heterocyclic carbene) phosphine ligand†
A facile, one pot synthesis of a coordinatively unsaturated ruthenium complex supported by a tripodal, protic bis(N-heterocyclic carbene) phosphine ligand is presented. A number of coordination complexes were discovered en route during this synthesis, revealing some of the unique aspects of complexes ligated by this type of tridentate, protic bis(NHC) ligand. Through a combination of 1D and 2D NMR spectroscopic analysis and single crystal X-ray diffraction, we reveal the intermediacy of phosphine-ligated bisimidazole complexes and show that abstraction of inner-sphere halide ions facilitates conversion to the desired tridentate bis(NHC) coordination mode. Ultimately the use of N-methyl-2-pyrrolidone is shown to enable the use of the extreme temperatures needed to facilitate the direct, thermally activated tautomerization reaction that gives rise to the bis(NHC) motif.