Nickel complexes have been widely employed as catalysts in C-C and C-heteroatom bond formation reactions. While Ni(0), Ni(i), and Ni(ii) intermediates are most relevant in these transformations, recently Ni(iii) and Ni(iv) species have also been proposed to play a role in catalysis. Reported herein is the synthesis, detailed characterization, and reactivity of a series of Ni(ii) and Ni(iii) metallacycle complexes stabilized by tetradentate pyridinophane ligands with various N-substituents. Interestingly, while the oxidation of the Ni(ii) complexes with various other oxidants led to exclusive C-C bond formation in very good yields, the use of O2 or H2O2 as oxidants led to formation of appreciable amounts of C-O bond formation products, especially for the Ni(ii) complex supported by an asymmetric pyridinophane ligand containing one tosyl N-substituent. Moreover, cryo-ESI-MS studies support the formation of several high-valent Ni species as key intermediates in this uncommon Ni-mediated oxygenase-type chemistry.
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