Mechanism of Ene Reactions of Singlet Oxygen. A Two-Step No-Intermediate Mechanism Academic Article uri icon


  • The mechanism of the ene reaction of singlet ((1)delta(g)) oxygen with simple alkenes is investigated by a combination of experimental isotope effects and several levels of theoretical calculations. For the reaction of 2,4-dimethyl-3-isopropyl-2-pentene, the olefinic carbons exhibit small and nearly equal (13)C isotope effects of 1.005-1.007, while the reacting methyl groups exhibit (13)C isotope effects near unity. In a novel experiment, the (13)C composition of the product is analyzed to determine the intramolecular (13)C isotope effects in the ene reaction of tetramethylethylene. The new (13)C and literature (2)H isotope effects are then used to evaluate the accuracy of theoretical calculations. RHF, CASSCF(10e, 8o), and restricted and unrestricted B3LYP calculations are each applied to the ene reaction with tetramethylethylene. Each predicts a different mechanism, but none leads to reasonable predictions of the experimental isotope effects. It is concluded that none of these calculations accurately describe the reaction. A more successful approach was to use high-level, up to CCSD(T), single-point energy calculations on a grid of B3LYP geometries. The resulting energy surface is supported by its accurate predictions of the intermolecular (13)C and (2)H isotope effects and a very good prediction of the reaction barrier. This CCSD(T)//B3LYP surface features two adjacent transition states without an intervening intermediate. This is the first experimentally supported example of such a surface and the first example of a valley-ridge inflection with significant chemical consequences.

author list (cited authors)

  • Singleton, D. A., Hang, C., Szymanski, M. J., Meyer, M. P., Leach, A. G., Kuwata, K. T., ... Houk, K. N.

citation count

  • 228

complete list of authors

  • Singleton, Daniel A||Hang, Chao||Szymanski, Michael J||Meyer, Matthew P||Leach, Andrew G||Kuwata, Keith T||Chen, Jenny S||Greer, Alexander||Foote, Christopher S||Houk, KN

publication date

  • January 2003