Issue 42, 2019

Role of torsional strain in the ring-opening polymerisation of low strain [n]nickelocenophanes


Ring-opening polymerisation (ROP) of strained [1]- and [2]metallocenophanes and related species is well-established, and the monomer ring-strain is manifest in a substantial tilting of the cyclopentadienyl ligands, giving α angles of ∼14–32°. Surprisingly, tetracarba[4]nickelocenophane [Ni(η5-C5H4)2(CH2)4] (2) undergoes ROP (pyridine, 20 °C, 5 days) to give primarily insoluble poly(nickelocenylbutylene) [Ni(η5-C5H4)2(CH2)4]n (12), despite the lack of significant ring-tilt. The exoenthalpic nature of the ROP was confirmed by DFT calculations involving the cyclic precursor and model oligomers (ΔH0ROP = −14 ± 2 kJ mol−1), and is proposed to be a consequence of torsional strain present in the ansa bridge of 2. The similarly untilted disila-2-oxa[3]nickelocenophanes [Ni(η5-C5H4)2(SiMe2)2O] (13) and [Ni(η5-C5H4)2(SiMePh)2O] (14) were found to lack similar torsional strain and to be resistant to ROP under the same conditions. In contrast, 1-methyltricarba[3]nickelocenophane {Ni(η5-C5H4)2(CH2)2[CH(CH3)]} (15) with a significant tilt angle (α ∼ 16°) was found to undergo ROP to give soluble polymer {Ni(η5-C5H4)2(CH2)2[CH(CH3)]}n (18). The reversibility of the process in this case allowed for the effects of temperature and reaction concentration on the monomer–polymer equilibrium to be explored and thereby thermodynamic data to be elucidated (ΔH0ROP = −8.9 kJ mol−1, ΔG0ROP = −3.1 kJ mol−1). Compared to the previously described ROP of the unsubstituted analogue [Ni(η5-C5H4)2(CH2)3] (1) (ΔH0ROP = −10 kJ mol−1, ΔG0ROP = −4.0 kJ mol−1), the presence of the additional methyl substituent in the ansa bridge appears to marginally disfavour ROP and leads to a corresponding decrease in the equilibrium polymer yield.

Graphical abstract: Role of torsional strain in the ring-opening polymerisation of low strain [n]nickelocenophanes

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Article type
Edge Article
29 May 2019
31 Jul 2019
First published
10 Sep 2019
This article is Open Access

All publication charges for this article have been paid for by the Royal Society of Chemistry
Creative Commons BY license

Chem. Sci., 2019,10, 9841-9852

Role of torsional strain in the ring-opening polymerisation of low strain [n]nickelocenophanes

R. A. Musgrave, R. L. N. Hailes, V. T. Annibale and I. Manners, Chem. Sci., 2019, 10, 9841 DOI: 10.1039/C9SC02624J

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