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J Org Chem. 2012 Oct 19;77(20):9268-76. doi: 10.1021/jo301846a. Epub 2012 Sep 28.

NMR and computational studies of the configurational properties of spirodioxyselenuranes. Are dynamic exchange processes or temperature-dependent chemical shifts involved?

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  • 1Department of Chemistry, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada T2N 1N4.


Spirodioxyselenurane 4a and several substituted analogs revealed unexpected (1)H NMR behavior. The diastereotopic methylene hydrogens of 4a appeared as an AB quartet at low temperature that coalesced to a singlet upon warming to 267 K, suggesting a dynamic exchange process with a relatively low activation energy. However, DFT computational investigations indicated high activation energies for exchange via inversion through the selenium center and for various pseudorotation processes. Moreover, the NMR behavior was unaffected by the presence of water or acid catalysts, thereby ruling out reversible Se-O or benzylic C-O cleavage as possible stereomutation pathways. Remarkably, when 4a was heated beyond 342 K, the singlet was transformed into a new AB quartet. Further computations indicated that a temperature dependence of the chemical shifts of the diastereotopic protons results in convergence upon heating, followed by crossover and divergence at still higher temperatures. The NMR behavior is therefore not due to dynamic exchange processes, but rather to temperature dependence of the chemical shifts of the diastereotopic hydrogens, which are coincidentally equivalent at intermediate temperatures. These results suggest the general need for caution in ascribing the coalescence of variable-temperature NMR signals of diastereotopic protons to dynamic exchange processes that could instead be due to temperature-dependent chemical shifts and highlight the importance of corroborating postulated exchange processes through additional computations or experiments wherever possible.

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