I wonder how the structure of Wilkinson's catalyst contributes to its catalytic properties. For example, what role do the phosphine ligands play? What properties make Rh the best TM centre?

Thank you!

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    $\begingroup$ Wilkinson's catalyst is a very famous molecule...it has its own Wikipedia page for example. From your readings of readily available resources such as this, which part are you having trouble with, in relation to the role of the phosphine ligands? What makes you say Rh is the best transition metal centre? Best for what? $\endgroup$ – long Feb 20 '17 at 4:16
  • $\begingroup$ @long Thanks for your comment! I was just wondering whether the phosphine ligands act to stabilise Rh in a low oxidation state, provide the bulk to prevent the binding of larger ligands that may be contaminants, force H and the alkene to be cis to one another to allow the alkene insertion to occur or something else? I am just interested in the whole process of discovering new catalysts: surely, chemists don't just screen thousands of complexes, and every single component / ligand they add has to play a role. Wilkinson's catalysts is just an example, but I want to understand general principles. $\endgroup$ – GingerBadger Feb 25 '17 at 23:39

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