Transition-Metal-Mediated Functionalization of White Phosphorus

Christian Hoidn, Daniel Scott, Robert Wolf

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

69 Citations (SciVal)


Recently there has been great interest in the reactivity of transition-metal (TM) centers towards white phosphorus (P4). This has ultimately been motivated by a desire to find TM-mediated alternatives to the current industrial routes used to transform P4 into myriad useful P-containing products, which are typically indirect, wasteful, and highly hazardous. Such a TM-mediated process can be divided into two steps: activation of P4 to generate a polyphosphorus complex TM-Pn, and subsequent functionalization of this complex to release the desired phosphorus-containing product. The former step has by now become well established, allowing the isolation of many different TM-Pn products. In contrast, productive functionalization of these complexes has proven extremely challenging and has been achieved only in a relative handful of cases. In this review we provide a comprehensive summary of successful TM-Pn functionalization reactions, where TM-Pn must be accessible by reaction of a TM precursor with P4. We hope that this will provide a useful resource for continuing efforts that are working towards this highly challenging goal of modern synthetic chemistry.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1886-1902
Number of pages17
JournalChemistry - A European Journal
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 26 Jan 2021

Bibliographical note

R.W.would like thank a number of dedicated former and present co-workers for their vital contributionsto the group’s research in the field. Their names are in the references. In addition, generous financial support by the European Research Council (CoG772299), the Alexander von Humboldt foundation (fellowship to D.J.S.), and the Stiftung der Deutschen Wirtschaft (sdw, PhD scholarship to C.M.H.) is gratefully acknowledged. Open access funding enabled and organized by Projekt DEAL.


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