Isotope effects and the mechanism of allylic hydroxylation of alkenes with selenium dioxide. Academic Article uri icon


  • The mechanism of the allylic oxidation of 2-methyl-2-butene with selenium dioxide was explored by a combination of experimental and theoretical studies. A comparison of the experimental (13)C and (2)H kinetic isotope effects with predicted values shows that the observed isotope effects are consistent with an initial concerted ene step mediated by SeO(2). However, this comparison also does not rule out the involvement of a selenous ester in the ene reaction or a stepwise reaction involving reversible electrophilic addition of HSeO(2)(+) followed by rate-limiting proton abstraction. Becke3LYP calculations strongly favor SeO(2) over a selenous ester as the active oxidant, with the predicted barrier for reaction of 2-methyl-2-butene with SeO(2) being 21-24 kcal/mol lower than that for reaction with H(2)SeO(3). The possibility of a selenous ester being the active oxidant is also disfavored by the observation of oxidations in non-hydroxylic solvents. The involvement of HSeO(2)(+) does not appear consistent with a lack of dependence of the reaction on the basicity of the reaction mixture. A concerted ene reaction with SeO(2) as the active oxidant appears to be the major mechanistic pathway operative in these reactions.

altmetric score

  • 5.168

author list (cited authors)

  • Singleton, D. A., & Hang, C

citation count

  • 42

complete list of authors

  • Singleton, DA||Hang, C

publication date

  • January 2000