In search of novel pentalenide ligands for use in organometallic chemistry and homogeneous catalysis, we report the scope of a straightforward base-promoted Michael annulation of cyclopentadienes with α,β-unsaturated ketones that allows the introduction of symmetrical as well as unsymmetrical aryl and alkyl substitution patterns including electron-donating as well as electron-withdrawing substituents. More than 16 examples of various isomers of 1,3,4,6-tetraarylated dihydropentalenes have been synthesized in isolated yields of up to 78%, representing a substantial expansion of the range of dihydropentalene scaffolds known to date. Double bond isomerization between the two pentacyclic rings in 1,2-dihydropentalenes with electronically different substituents occurred depending on the polarization of the molecule. The melting points of the air-stable dihydropentalenes decrease, and their solubilities in organic solvents improve with increasing substitution and decreasing symmetry of the molecule. A competitive pseudo-retro-aldol pathway produces 1,3,6-triarylated monocyclic pentafulvenes as side products in yields of 9-68%, which can be cleanly isolated (8 new examples) and used for other synthetic purposes, including separate cyclization to other dihydropentalenes.
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Material and Chemical Characterisation (MC2)