Mechanistic insight into the initiation step of the coupling reaction of oxetane or epoxides and CO2 catalyzed by (salen)CrX complexes. Academic Article uri icon


  • The most active and robust current catalysts for the copolymerization of carbon dioxide and epoxides or oxetanes, (salen)CrX in conjunction with PPNX (PPN(+) = (Ph3P)2N(+)) or n-Bu4NX (X = Cl, N3, CN, NCO), are characterized both in solution by infrared spectroscopy and in the solid-state by X-ray crystallography. All anions (X) afford six-coordinate chromium(III) PPN(+) or n-Bu4N(+) salts composed of trans-(salen)CrX2(-) species. Of the X groups investigated in (salen)CrX, chloride is easily displaced by the others, that is, the reaction of (salen)CrCl with 2 equiv of N3(-), CN(-), or NCO(-) quantitatively provide (salen)Cr(N3)2(-), (salen)Cr(CN)2(-), and (salen)Cr(NCO)2(-), respectively. On the other hand, addition of less than 2 equiv of azide to (salen)CrCl leads to a Schlenk (ligand redistribution) equilibrium of the three possible anions both in solution and in the solid-state as shown by X-ray crystallography and electrospray ionization mass spectrometry. It was further demonstrated that all trans-(salen)CrX2(-) anions react with the epoxide or oxetane monomers in TCE (tetrachloroethane) solution to afford an equilibrium mixture containing (salen)CrX x monomer, with the oxetane adduct being thermodynamically more favored. The ring-opening steps of the bound cyclic ether monomers by X(-) were examined, revealing the rate of ring-opening of the epoxides (cyclohexene oxide and propylene oxide) to be much faster than of oxetane, with propylene oxide faster than cyclohexene oxide. Furthermore, both X anions in (salen)CrX2(-) were shown to be directly involved in monomer ring-opening.

published proceedings

  • Inorg Chem

altmetric score

  • 3

author list (cited authors)

  • Darensbourg, D. J., & Moncada, A. I.

citation count

  • 79

complete list of authors

  • Darensbourg, Donald J||Moncada, Adriana I

publication date

  • November 2008