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Migratory Insertion of Carbenes into Au(III)–C Bonds


Migratory insertion of carbon-based species into transition-metal-carbon bonds is a mechanistic manifold of vast significance: it underlies the Fischer-Tropsch process, Mizoroki-Heck reaction, Ziegler-Natta and analogous late-transition-metal-catalyzed olefin polymerizations, and a number of carbonylative methods for the synthesis of ketones and esters, among others. Although this type of reactivity is well-precedented for most transition metals, gold constitutes a notable exception, with virtually no well-characterized examples known to date. Yet, the complementary reactivity of gold to numerous other transition metals would offer new synthetic opportunities for migratory insertion of carbon-based species into gold-carbon bonds. Here we report the discovery of well-defined Au(III) complexes that participate in rapid migratory insertion of carbenes derived from silyl- or carbonyl-stabilized diazoalkanes into Au-C bonds at temperatures ≥ -40 °C. Through a combined theoretical and experimental approach, key kinetic, thermodynamic, and structural details of this reaction manifold were elucidated. This study paves the way for homogeneous gold-catalyzed processes incorporating carbene migratory insertion steps.

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