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Keywords:

  • aryl halides;
  • ligand substitution;
  • mass spectrometry;
  • palladium;
  • reaction mechanisms
Thumbnail image of graphical abstract

A supposed spectator ligand plays a crucial role in a seemingly simple ligand substitution reaction on palladium. Continuous monitoring by ESI-MS reveals all the details of an initial fast displacement of iodide by an incoming phosphine ligand, and of the recoordination of iodide that prompts the displacement of the bidentate ligand actually being substituted. An apparent double substitution and subsequent isomerization can be readily explained by two fast and one slow ligand substitution reactions (see figure).