Ruthenium-based olefin metathesis catalysts bearing pH-responsive ligands: External control of catalyst solubility and activity
Sixteen novel, Ru-based olefin metathesis catalysts bearing pH responsive ligands were synthesized. The pH-responsive groups employed with these catalysts included dimethylamino (NMe2) modified NHC ligands as well as N-donor dimethylaminopyridine (DMAP) and 3-( o -pyridyl)propylidene ligands. These pH-responsive ligands provided the means by which the solubility and/or activity profiles of the catalysts produced could be controlled via acid addition. The main goal of this dissertation was to design catalyst systems capable of performing ring opening metathesis (ROMP) and ring closing metathesis (RCM) reactions in both organic and aqueous media. In an effort to quickly gain access to new catalyst structures, a template synthesis for functionalized NHC ligand precursors was designed, in addition to other strategies, to obtain ligand precursors with ancillary NMe2 groups. Kinetic studies for the catalysts produced from these precursors showed external control of catalyst solubility was afforded via protonation of the NMe2 groups of their NHC ligands. Additionally, this protonation afforded external control of catalyst propagation rates for several catalysts. This is the first known independent external control for the propagation rates of ROMP catalysts. The incorporation of pH-responsive N-donor ligands into catalyst structures also provided the means for the external control of metathesis activity, as the protonation of these ligands resulted in an increased initiation rate based on their fast and irreversible dissociation from the metal center. The enhanced external control makes these catalysts applicable to a wide range of applications, some of which have been explored by us and/or through collaboration. Three of the catalysts designed showed remarkable metathesis activity in aqueous media. These catalysts displayed comparable RCM activity in aqueous media to a class of water-soluble catalysts reported by Grubbs et al., considered to be the most active catalyst for aqueous olefin metathesis reactions. In ROMP reactions these particular catalysts dramatically outperformed the literature catalysts, accomplishing ROMP full conversion rates within 15 minutes compared to several hours observed with the literature catalyst. These catalysts were also able to accomplish these reactions at lower catalyst loadings than ever reported with the literature catalyst, making them the most active aqueous olefin metathesis catalysts to date.