Failure and Redemption of Statistical and Nonstatistical Rate Theories in the Hydroboration of Alkenes Academic Article uri icon


  • Our previous work found that canonical forms of transition state theory incorrectly predict the regioselectivity of the hydroboration of propene with BH3 in solution. In response, it has been suggested that alternative statistical and nonstatistical rate theories can adequately account for the selectivity. This paper uses a combination of experimental and theoretical studies to critically evaluate the ability of these rate theories, as well as dynamic trajectories and newly developed localized statistical models, to predict quantitative selectivities and qualitative trends in hydroborations on a broader scale. The hydroboration of a series of terminally substituted alkenes with BH3 was examined experimentally, and a classically unexpected trend is that the selectivity increases as the alkyl chain is lengthened far from the reactive centers. Conventional and variational transition state theories can predict neither the selectivities nor the trends. The canonical competitive nonstatistical model makes somewhat better predictions for some alkenes but fails to predict trends, and it performs poorly with an alkene chosen to test a specific prediction of the model. Added nonstatistical corrections to this model make the predictions worse. Parametrized Rice-Ramsperger-Kassel-Marcus (RRKM)-master equation calculations correctly predict the direction of the trend in selectivity versus alkene size but overpredict its magnitude, and the selectivity with large alkenes remains unpredictable with any parametrization. Trajectory studies in explicit solvent can predict selectivities without parametrization but are impractical for predicting small changes in selectivity. From a lifetime and energy analysis of the trajectories, "localized RRKM-ME" and "competitive localized noncanonical" rate models are suggested as steps toward a general model. These provide the best predictions of the experimental observations and insight into the selectivities.

altmetric score

  • 1

author list (cited authors)

  • Bailey, J. O., & Singleton, D. A.

citation count

  • 28

complete list of authors

  • Bailey, Johnathan O||Singleton, Daniel A

publication date

  • January 2017