Homoleptic Rare-Earth Metal(III) Tetramethylaluminates: Structural Chemistry, Reactivity, and Performance in Isoprene Polymerization



The complexes [Ln(AlMe4)3] (Ln=Y, La, Ce, Pr, Nd, Sm, Ho, Lu) have been synthesized by an amide elimination route and the structures of [Lu{(μ-Me)2AlMe2}3], [Sm{(μ-Me)2AlMe2}3], [Pr{(μ-Me)2AlMe2}3], and [La{(μ-Me)2AlMe2}2{(μ-Me)3AlMe}] determined by X-ray crystallography. These structures reveal a distinct Ln3+ cation size-dependency. A comprehensive insight into the intrinsic properties and solution coordination phenomena of [Ln(AlMe4)3] complexes has been gained from extended dynamic 1H and 13C NMR spectroscopic studies, as well as 1D 89Y, 2D 1H/89Y, and 27Al NMR spectroscopic investigations. [Ce(AlMe4)3] and [Pr(AlMe4)3] have been used as alkyl precursors for the synthesis of heterobimetallic alkylated rare-earth metal complexes. Both carboxylate and siloxide ligands can be introduced by methane elimination reactions that give the heterobimetallic complexes [Ln{(O2CAriPr)2(μ-AlMe2)}2(AlMe4)(C6H14)n] and [Ln{OSi(OtBu)3}(AlMe3)(AlMe4)2], respectively. [Pr{OSi(OtBu)3}(AlMe3)(AlMe4)2] has been characterized by X-ray structure analysis. All of the cerium and praseodymium complexes are used as precatalysts in the stereospecific polymerization of isoprene (1–3 equivalents of Et2AlCl as co-catalyst) and compared to the corresponding neodymium-based initiators reported previously. The superior catalytic performance of the homoleptic complexes leads to quantitative yields of high-cis-1,4-polyisoprene (>98 %) in almost all of the polymerization experiments. In the case of the binary catalyst mixtures derived from carboxylate or siloxide precatalysts quantitative formation of polyisoprene is only observed for nLn:nCl=1:2. The influence of the metal size is illustrated for the heterobimetallic lanthanum, cerium, praseodymium, neodymium, and gadolinium carboxylate complexes, and the highest activities are observed for praseodymium as a metal center in the presence of one equivalent of Et2AlCl.