Synthesis of Aromatic Aza-metallapentalenes from Metallabenzene via Sequential Ring Contraction/Annulation

The concept of aromaticity has long played an important role in chemistry and continues to fascinate both experimentalists and theoreticians. Among the archetypal aromatic compounds, heteroaromatics are particularly attractive. Recently, substitution of a transition-metal fragment for a carbon atom in the anti-aromatic hydrocarbon pentalene has led to the new heteroaromatic osmapentalenes. However, construction of the aza-homolog of osmapentalenes cannot be accomplished by a similar synthetic manipulation.

Understanding nonplanarity in metallabenzene complexes

The nonplanarity found in metallabenzene complexes has been investigated theoretically via density functional theory (DFT) calculations. A metallabenzene has four occupied π molecular orbitals (8 π electrons) instead of three that benzene has. Our electronic structure analyses show that the extra occupied π molecular orbital, which is the highest occupied molecular orbital (HOMO) in many metallabenzenes, has antibonding interactions between the metal center and the metal-bonded ring-carbon atoms, providing the electronic driving force toward nonplanarity.