The Mechanism of the Wacker Reaction: A Tale of Two Hydroxypalladations

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Abstract

We present a concise review on the most pertinent investigations that illuminate the complicated and elusive mechanism for the Wacker process, homogeneous olefin oxidation by palladium(II) catalysts. For more than four decades, multitudes of creative and elegant studies detailing the nucleophilic addition and other steps of the Wacker process have appeared contradictory, while in fact modern perspective has shown an intricate and colorful picture of the “textbook” organometallic reaction. A summary and critical analysis of previous studies is of great importance to explain resolved and highlight unresolved questions about this frequently misunderstood reaction.

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