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How Persistent Is Cyclopropyl upon Nucleophilic Substitution, and Is Frontside Displacement Possible? A Model Study

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journal contribution
posted on 20.09.2001, 00:00 by Einar Uggerud
Quantum chemical model calculations (MP2/6-31G(d,p)) demonstrate that frontside nucleophilic substitution is not possible in the reaction between water and protonated cyclopropanol. Instead, ring opening occurs, in accordance with a well-known disrotary ring-opening mechanism. When the cyclopropane ring is embedded in a stabilizing bicyclic structure, as in protonated bicyclo[3.1.0]hexanol, the mechanistic landscape changes. In this case frontside nucleophilic substitution occurs, and has a potential energy barrier which is lower than that of the corresponding backside substitution, which implies that the stereochemical outcome of this gas-phase nucleophilic substitution reaction is uncoupled from its kinetic order. This and similar results challenge the traditional view that nucleophilic substitution reactions should be categorized as being either SN1 or SN2.