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Mechanistic Insight into the Photoredox Catalysis of Anti-Markovnikov Alkene Hydrofunctionalization Reactions

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journal contribution
posted on 17.12.2015, 06:17 by Nathan A. Romero, David A. Nicewicz
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.