A fascinating re-examination has appeared of a reaction first published in 1960 by Wittig and then repudiated by him in 1964 since it could not be replicated by a later student. According to the new work, the secret to a successful replication seems to be the presence of traces of a nickel catalyst (originally coming from e.g. a nickel spatula?). In this recent article a mechanism for the catalytic cycle is proposed. Here I thought I might explore this mechanism using calculations to see if any further insights might emerge.
- S.A. Künzi, J.M. Sarria Toro, T. den Hartog, and P. Chen, " Nickel-Catalyzed Cyclopropanation with NMe 4 OTf and n BuLi ", Angewandte Chemie International Edition, vol. 54, pp. 10670-10674, 2015. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/anie.201505482
- V. Franzen, and G. Wittig, "Trimethylammonium-methylid als Methylen-Donator", Angewandte Chemie, vol. 72, pp. 417-417, 1960. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ange.19600721210
- G. Wittig, and D. Krauss, "Cyclopropanierungen bei Einwirkung vonN-Yliden auf Olefine", Justus Liebigs Ann. Chem., vol. 679, pp. 34-41, 1964. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jlac.19646790106