Synthesis of selected cage alkenes and their attempted ring–opening metathesis polymerisation with well–defined ruthenium carbene catalysts
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In this study a number of cage alkenes were synthesised and tested for activity towards ringopening metathesis polymerisation (ROMP) with the commercially available catalysts 55 (Grubbs-I) and 56 (Grubbs-II). The first group of monomers are derivatives of tetracyclo[6.3.0.04,1105,9]undec-2-en-6-one (1). The synthesis of these cage alkenes are summarised in Scheme 7.1. The cage alkene 126b was synthesised by a Diels-Alder reaction between 1 and hexachlorocyclopentadiene (9, Scheme 7.2). The geometry of 126b was determined from XRD data. Knowledge of the geometry of 126b also established the geometry of 127 since conformational changes during the conversion from 126b to 127 are unlikely. Synthesis of the cage alkene 125 by the cycloaddition of 9 to 118 failed. The cage alkene exo-11-hydroxy-4,5,6,7,16,16-hexachlorohexacyclo[7.6.1.03,8.02,13.010,14]hexa-dec-5-ene (124, Scheme 7.3) could therefore not be prepared. Synthesis of 125 by reduction of 126b with various reduction systems was not successful. Theoretical aspects of these reactions were investigated with molecular modelling. A possible explanation for the unreactive nature of 126b towards reduction is presented, but the lack of reactivity of 118 towards 9 eluded clear explanations. The synthesis of cage alkenes from 4-isopropylidenepentacyclo[5.4.0.02,6.03,10.05,9]-undecane-8,11-dione (23) did not meet with much success (Scheme 7.4). Numerous synthetic methods were investigated to affect the transformation from 134a/134b to 135 (Scheme 7.5). These attempts evolved into theoretical investigations to uncover the reasons for the observed reactivity. Possible explanations were established by considering the differences and similarities between the geometries and electronic structures of reactive and unreactive cage alcohols. ROMP of cage monomers based on 1 were mostly unsuccessful. Only the cage monomer 127 showed some reactivity. Endocyclic cage monomers with a tetracycloundecane (TCU) framework showed no reactivity. The results from NMR experiments verified the experimental results. Hexacyclo[8.4.0.02,9.03,13.04,7.04,12]tetradec-5-en-11,14-dione (3) exhibited notable ROMP reactivity. Examination of the orbitals of the cage alkenes used in this study suggested that the reactivity of 1 and 3 could possibly be enhanced by removal of the carbonyl groups. Decarbonylation of 1 and 3 yielded the cage hydrocarbons 159 and 175, respectively. ROMP tests revealed that 175 is an excellent monomer, but 159 was unreactive. The results obtained for the ROMP reactions in this study was rationalised by considering aspects such as ring strain, energy profiles, steric constraints, and frontier orbital theory. The concept of ring strain is less useful when describing the reactivity of cage alkenes towards ROMP and therefore the concepts of fractional ring strain and fractional ring strain energy (RSEf) were developed. A possible link between RSEf and the ROMP reactivity of cage alkenes was also established. The following criteria were put forth to predict the reactivity or explain the lack of reactivity of cage alkenes towards ROMP reactions with Grubbs-I and Grubbs-II. The criteria for ROMP of cage monomers: 1. Sufficient fractional ring strain energy (RSEf). 2. A reasonable energy profile when compared to a reference compound such as cyclopentene. 3. Ability to form a metallacyclobutane intermediate with reasonable distances between different parts of the cage fragment. 4. Sufficient ability of the polymer fragment to take on a conformation that exposes the catalytic site. 5. Sufficient size, shape, orientation and energy of HOMO and/or NHOMO at the alkene functionality of the cage monomer and of the LUMO at the catalytic site.