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Linear alpha olefins are used as precursors of various products such as lubricants, detergents, shampoos, and other speciality chemicals. There are a variety of chemical methods for producing these linear alpha olefins, the most prevalent being the oligomerization of ethene. One such oligomerization process was invented by Shell Oil in the 1960s: The Shell Higher Olefins Process (or “SHOP”). Whilst the SHOP process is more efficient than previous methods, it still produces substantial amounts of long chain waste by-products. Previously, a cationic cobalt catalyst with a trimethylphosphite ligand successfully dimerized of 1-hexene to 1-dodecene. Unfortunately, due to the steric bulk of the supporting ligand, the catalyst did not yield a favourable product distribution, with 1,2 insertion dominating. This research project focused on the successful synthesis and coordination of various less bulky phenyl isocyanide supporting ligands to bis(η2-ethene)2(η5-pentamethylcyclopentadienyl)cobalt(I). The synthesis of p-methoxy-, p-nitro-, p-bromo-, and p-fluorophenylisocyanides and conditions for mono-coordination to Cp*Co(ethene)2 are presented. Reaction optimization in the synthesis of both the phenyl isocyanide ligands and the neutral precatalyst bis (η2-ethene) (η5-pentamethylcyclopentadienyl)cobalt(I) was achieved during this project. Additionally, successful coordination of the 4-methoxy, fluoro and bromophenyl isocyanide supporting ligand to bis (η2-ethene) (η5-pentamethylcyclopentadienyl) cobalt(I) was achieved.
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