Monofunctional hyperbranched ethylene oligomers

J Am Chem Soc. 2014 Feb 5;136(5):2078-85. doi: 10.1021/ja411945n. Epub 2014 Jan 22.


The neutral κ(2)N,O-salicylaldiminato Ni(II) complexes [κ(2)N,O-{(2,6-(3',5'-R2C6H3)2C6H3-N═C(H)-(3,5-I2-2-O-C6H2)}]NiCH3(pyridine)] (1a-pyr, R = Me; 1b-pyr, R = Et; 1c-pyr, R = iPr) convert ethylene to hyperbranched low-molecular-weight oligomers (Mn ca. 1000 g mol(-1)) with high productivities. While all three catalysts are capable of generating hyperbranched structures, branching densities decrease significantly with the nature of the remote substituent along Me > Et > iPr and oligomer molecular weights increase. Consequently, only 1a-pyr forms hyperbranched structures over a wide range of reaction conditions (ethylene pressure 5-30 atm and 20-70 °C). An in situ catalyst system achieves similar activities and identical highly branched oligomer microstructures, eliminating the bottleneck given by the preparation and isolation of Ni-Me catalyst precursor species. Selective introduction of one primary carboxylic acid ester functional group per highly branched oligoethylene molecule was achieved by isomerizing ethoxycarbonylation and alternatively cross metathesis with ethyl acrylate followed by hydrogenation. The latter approach results in complete functionalization and no essential loss of branched oligomer material and molecular weight, as the reacting double bonds are close to a chain end. Reduction yielded a monoalcohol-functionalized oligomer. Introduction of one reactive epoxide group per branched oligomer occurs completely and selectively under mild conditions. All reaction steps involved in oligomerization and monofunctionalization are efficient and readily scalable.