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Theory of 1,3-Dipolar Cycloadditions: Distortion/Interaction and Frontier Molecular Orbital Models

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Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of California, Los Angeles, California 90095
Cite this: J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2008, 130, 31, 10187–10198
Publication Date (Web):July 10, 2008
Copyright © 2008 American Chemical Society

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    Quantum chemical calculations of activation barriers and reaction energies for 1,3-dipolar cycloadditions by the high-accuracy CBS-QB3 method reveal previously unrecognized quantitative trends in activation barriers. The distortion/interaction model of reactivity explains why (1) there is a monotonic decrease of ∼6 kcal/mol in the activation energy along the series oxides, imine, and ylide for the diazonium, nitrilium, and azomethine betaine classes of 1,3-dipoles; (2) nitrilium and azomethine betaines with the same trio of atoms have almost identical cycloaddition barrier heights; (3) barrier heights for the cycloadditions of a given 1,3-dipole with ethylene and acetylene have the same activation energies (mean absolute deviation of 0.6 kcal/mol) in spite of very different reaction thermodynamics (ΔΔHrxn range = 14−43 kcal/mol) and frontier molecular orbital (FMO) energy gaps. The energy to distort the 1,3-dipole and dipolarophile to the transition state geometry, rather than FMO interactions or reaction thermodynamics, controls reactivity for cycloadditions of 1,3-dipoles with alkenes or alkynes. A distortion/interaction energy analysis was also carried out on the transition states for the cycloadditions of diazonium dipoles with a set of substituted alkenes (CH2CHX, X = OMe, Me, CO2Me, Cl, CN) and reveals that FMO interaction energies between the 1,3-dipole and the dipolarophile differentiate reactivity when transition state distortion energies are nearly constant.

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