Direct metal–carbon bonding in symmetric bis(C–H) agostic nickel(i) complexes†
Agostic interactions are examples of σ-type interactions, typically resulting from interactions between C–H σ-bonds with empty transition metal d orbitals. Such interactions often reflect the first step in transition metal-catalysed C–H activation processes and thus are of critical importance in understanding and controlling σ bond activation chemistries. Herein, we report on the unusual electronic structure of linear electron-rich d9 Ni(I) complexes with symmetric bis(C–H) agostic interactions. A combination of Ni K edge and L edge XAS with supporting TD-DFT/DFT calculations reveals an unconventional covalent agostic interaction with limited contributions from the valence Ni 3d orbitals. The agostic interaction is driven via the empty Ni 4p orbitals. The surprisingly strong Ni 4p-derived agostic interaction is dominated by σ contributions with minor π contributions. The resulting ligand–metal donation occurs directly along the C–Ni bond axis, reflecting a novel mode of bis-agostic bonding.