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The Carbocation Rearrangement Mechanism, Clarified

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posted on 26.01.2016, 00:00 by Daniel J. S. Sandbeck, Daniel J. Markewich, Allan L. L. East
The role of protonated cyclopropane (PCP+) structures in carbocation rearrangement is a decades-old topic that continues to confound. Here, quantum-chemical computations (PBE molecular dynamics, PBE and CCSD optimizations, CCSD­(T) energies) are used to resolve the issue. PCP+ intermediates are neither edge-protonated nor corner-protonated (normally) but possess “closed” structures mesomeric between these two. An updated mechanism for hexyl ion rearrangement is presented and shown to resolve past mysteries from isotope-labeling experiments. A new table of elementary-step barrier heights is provided. The mechanism and barrier heights should be useful in understanding and predicting product distributions in organic reactions, including petroleum modification.