Direct Evidence for the Origin of Bis-Gold Intermediates: Probing Gold Catalysis with Mass Spectrometry

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© 2018 Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim Gold-catalyzed alkyne hydration was studied by using in situ reacting mass spectrometry (MS) technology. By monitoring the reaction process in solution under different conditions (regular and very diluted catalyst concentrations, different pH values) and examining the reaction occurrence in the early reaction stage (1–2 ms after mixing) with MS, we collected a series of experimental evidence to support that the bis-gold complex is a potential key reaction intermediate. Furthermore, both experimental and computational studies confirmed that the σ,π-bis-gold complexes are not active intermediates toward nucleophilic addition. Instead, formation of geminally diaurated complex C is crucial for this catalytic process.