Mechanistic Insight into the Photoredox Catalysis of Anti-Markovnikov Alkene Hydrofunctionalization Reactions
journal contributionposted on 17.12.2015 by Nathan A. Romero, David A. Nicewicz
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We describe our efforts to understand the key mechanistic aspects of the previously reported alkene hydrofunctionalization reactions using 9-mesityl-10-methylacridinium (Mes-Acr+) as a photoredox catalyst. Importantly, we are able to detect alkene cation radical intermediates, and confirm that phenylthiyl radical is capable of oxidizing the persistent acridinyl radical in a fast process that unites the catalytic activity of the photoredox and hydrogen atom transfer (HAT) manifolds. Additionally, we present evidence that diphenyl disulfide ((PhS)2) operates on a common catalytic cycle with thiophenol (PhSH) by way of photolytic cleaveage of the disulfide bond. Transition structure analysis of the HAT step using DFT reveals that the activation barrier for H atom donation from PhSH is significantly lower than 2-phenylmalononitrile (PMN) due to structural reorganization. In the early stages of the reaction, Mes-Acr+ is observed to engage in off-cycle adduct formation, presumably as buildup of PhS− becomes significant. The kinetic differences between PhSH and (PhS)2 as HAT catalysts indicate that the proton transfer step may have significant rate limiting influence.