Iron-Catalyzed [2+2] Cycloadditions of Unactivated Alkenes

The thermal [2+2] cycloaddition of alkenes leading to cyclobutanes remains a big challenge for chemists as current methodologies rely on photochemical activation and substrates bearing chromophores. For this reason, unactivated alkenes, which are available in large quantities from natural resources, have been outside the scope of [2+2] cycloaddition reactions so far. Recently, a new breakthrough methodology for performing this transformation has been described in a Science paper published by Professor Paul Chirik and members of his group from Princeton University (USA). This Fe-catalyzed work is an example of chemistry that has been of long-standing interest to the Chirik group in order to develop sustainable catalytic methods that employ earth-abundant and environmentally benign first-row transition metals.

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