When two metal atoms are better than one

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Science  22 Feb 2019:
Vol. 363, Issue 6429, pp. 819
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaw5825

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The discovery of new molecules with particular functions drives advances in biology, health, materials science, and energy production, but molecular design remains limited by available synthetic methodology. Transition-metal catalysis has had a large impact by increasing the number of molecules that can be tested. Most of these catalysts contain a single metal atom, but two catalysts, working in concert, may accomplish what a single catalyst cannot (13). Less explored are catalysts that contain a two–metal-atom (diatomic) core with a metal-metal (M-M) bond (4). On page 857 of this issue, Zhou and Uyeda (5) show that a diatomic Ni-Ni catalyst can accomplish an elusive goal: the general, stereo-controlled synthesis of complex cyclopentenes from a four-carbon unit (a diene) and a one-carbon unit (a dichloroalkene), a net [4+1] reaction.