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J Am Chem Soc. 2014 Jun 18;136(24):8614-25. doi: 10.1021/ja5014773. Epub 2014 Jun 9.

Carbon-hydrogen activation of cycloalkanes by cyclopentadienylcarbonylrhodium--a lifetime enigma.

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  • 1Department of Chemistry, Texas A&M University , College Station, Texas 77843-3255, United States.


Carbon-hydrogen bond activation reactions of four cycloalkanes (C5H10, C6H12, C7H14, and C8H16) by the Cp'Rh(CO) fragments (Cp' = η(5)-C5H5 (Cp) or η(5)-C5Me5 (Cp*)) were modeled theoretically by combining density functional and coupled cluster theories, and their reaction rates were measured by fast time-resolved infrared spectroscopy. The reaction has two steps, starting with the formation of a σ-complex intermediate, followed by oxidative addition of the C-H bond by the rhodium. A range of σ-complex stabilities among the electronically unique C-H bonds in a cycloalkane were calculated and are related to the individual strengths of the C-H bond's interactions with the Rh fragment and the steric repulsion that is incurred upon forming the specific σ-complex. The unexpectedly large increase in the lifetimes of the σ-complexes from cyclohexane to cycloheptane was predicted to be due to the large range of stabilities of the different σ-complexes found for cycloheptane. The reaction lifetimes were simulated with two mechanisms, with and without migrations among the different σ-complexes, to determine if ring migrations prior to C-H activation were influencing the rate. Both mechanisms predicted similar lifetimes for cyclopentane, cyclohexane, and, to a lesser extent, cycloheptane, suggesting ring migrations do not have a large impact on the rate of C-H activation for these cycloalkanes. For cyclooctane, the inclusion of ring migrations in the reaction mechanism led to a more accurate prediction of the lifetime, indicating that ring migrations did have an effect on the rate of C-H activation for this alkane, and that migration among the σ-complexes is faster than the C-H activation for this larger cycloalkane.

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