Iron(iii)-catalysed carbonyl-olefin metathesis

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Abstract

The olefin metathesis reaction of two unsaturated substrates is one of the most powerful carbon-carbon-bond-forming reactions in organic chemistry. Specifically, the catalytic olefin metathesis reaction has led to profound developments in the synthesis of molecules relevant to the petroleum, materials, agricultural and pharmaceutical industries1. These reactions are characterized by their use of discrete metal alkylidene catalysts that operate via a well-established mechanism2. While the corresponding carbonyl-olefin metathesis reaction can also be used to construct carbon-carbon bonds, currently available methods are scarce and severely hampered by either harsh reaction conditions or the required use of stoichiometric transition metals as reagents. To date, no general protocol for catalytic carbonyl-olefin metathesis has been reported. Here we demonstrate a catalytic carbonyl-olefin ring-closing metathesis reaction that uses iron, an Earth-abundant and environmentally benign transition metal, as a catalyst. This transformation accommodates a variety of substrates and is distinguished by its operational simplicity, mild reaction conditions, high functional-group tolerance, and amenability to gram-scale synthesis. We anticipate that these characteristics, coupled with the efficiency of this reaction, will allow for further advances in areas that have historically been enhanced by olefin metathesis.

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