Behind the Scenes of Group 4 Metallocene Catalysis: Examination of the Metal-Carbon Bond

Martin R. Machat, Andreas Fischer, Dominik Schmitz, Marcel Vöst, Markus Drees, Christian Jandl, Alexander Pöthig, Nicola P.M. Casati, Wolfgang Scherer, Bernhard Rieger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


This contribution provides the first detailed analysis of the nature of the M-C σ-bond of three alkylated, isostructural group 4 (M = Ti, Zr, Hf) metallocenes, thereby elucidating individual peculiarities of each metal center in the catalytic conversion of olefins. Therefore, the subtle electronic differences of the individual M-C σ-bonds, which are considered crucial for several subprocesses in the coordinative polymerization of olefins, were examined by detailed experimental charge density studies. These studies provided measures of the increasing ionic character of the M-C bonds along the group 4 elements (Ti-C < Zr-C < Hf-C). These results are further supported by high-pressure diffraction studies showing that the predominantly ionic Hf-C bond is more compressible than the more covalent Zr-C bond in line with a smaller degree of electron localization in the valence shell of the hafnium relative to the zirconium atom along the M-C bond directions. The Ti-C bond displays the largest degree of electron localization in these group 4 metallocenes as witnessed by a pronounced bonded charge concentration in the valence shell of the titanium atom-a rare phenomenon in transition metal alkyls. All findings were then complemented by experimental and theoretical studies of the kinetic aspects of M-C σ-bond cleavage in group 4 metallocenes. These studies show that the entropy of activation is distinctly more negative for a Zr-C relative to a Hf-C bond dissociation. The combined results of the kinetic and electronic analysis herein shed new light on the different catalytic behavior of group 4 metallocenes with regard to the applied transition metal atom. In this context, deviations between zirconium- and hafnium-based catalysts concerning the catalytic activity and the stereoregularities became clearly explainable, just as the well-known "hafnium-effect" in the production of extraordinarily high molecular weight polypropylenes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2690-2705
Number of pages16
Issue number16
StatePublished - 27 Aug 2018


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