Structural studies of Schiff-base [2 + 2] macrocycles derived from 2,2′-oxydianiline and the ROP capability of their organoaluminium complexes

The molecular structures of a number of solvates of the [2 + 2] Schiff-base macrocycles {[2-(OH)-5-(R)-C6H2-1,3-(CH)2][O(2-C6H4N)2]}2 (R = Me L1H2, tBu L2H2, Cl L3H2), formed by reacting 2,6-dicarboxy-4-R-phenol with 2,2′-oxydianiline (2-aminophenylether), (2-NH2C6H4)2O, have been determined. Reaction of LnH2 with two equivalents of AlR′3 (R′ = Me, Et) afforded dinuclear alkylaluminium complexes [(AlR′2)2L1-3] (R = R′ = Me (1), R = tBu, R′ = Me (2), R = Cl, R′ = Me (3), R = Me, R′ = Et (4), R = tBu, R′ = Et (5), R = Cl, R′ = Et (6)). For comparative studies, reactions of two equivalents of AlR′3 (R′ = Me, Et) with the macrocycle derived from 2,2′-ethylenedianiline and 2,6-dicarboxy-R-phenols (R = Me L4H2, tBu L5H2) were conducted; the complexes [(AlMe)(AlMe2)L5]·2 MeCN (7·2 MeCN) and [(AlEt2)2L4] (8) were isolated. Use of limited AlEt3 with L3H2 or L5H2 afforded mononuclear bis(macrocyclic) complexes [Al(L3)(L3H)]·4toluene (9·4toluene) and [Al(L5)(L5H)]·5MeCN (10·5MeCN), respectively. Use of four equivalents of AlR′3 led to transfer of alkyl groups and isolation of the complexes [(AlR′2)4L1′-3′] (R = L2′, R′ = Me (11); L3′, R′ = Me (12); L1′, R′ = Et (13); L2′, R′ = Et (14); L3′, R′ = Et (15)), where L1′-3′ is the macrocycle resulting from double alkyl transfer to imine, namely {[2-(O)-5-(R)C6H2-1-(CH)-3-C(R′)H][(O)(2-(N)-2′-C6H4N)2]}2. Molecular structures of complexes 7·2 MeCN, 8, 9·4toluene, 10·5MeCN and 11·1 toluene·1 hexane are reported. These complexes act as catalysts for the ring opening polymerisation (ROP) of ϵ-caprolactone and rac-lactide; high conversions were achieved over 30 min at 80 °C for ϵ-caprolactone, and 110 °C over 12 h for rac-lactide.