Tandem catalysis for asymmetric coupling of ethylene and enynes to functionalized cyclobutanes

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Transformation of simple precursors into structurally complex cyclobutanes, present in many biologically important natural products and pharmaceuticals, is of considerable interest in medicinal chemistry. Starting from 1,3-enynes and ethylene, both exceptionally inexpensive starting materials, we report a cobalt-catalyzed route to vinylcyclobutenes, as well as the further enantioselective addition of ethylene to these products to form complex cyclobutanes with all-carbon quaternary centers. These reactions can proceed in discrete stages or in a tandem fashion to achieve three highly selective carbon-carbon bond formations in one pot using a single chiral cobalt catalyst.

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