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Title: Mechanistic Details of the Sharpless Epoxidation of Allylic Alcohols—A Combined URVA and Local Mode Study
In this work, we investigated the catalytic effects of a Sharpless dimeric titanium (IV)–tartrate–diester catalyst on the epoxidation of allylalcohol with methyl–hydroperoxide considering four different orientations of the reacting species coordinated at the titanium atom (reactions R1–R4) as well as a model for the non-catalyzed reaction (reaction R0). As major analysis tools, we applied the URVA (Unified Reaction Valley Approach) and LMA (Local Mode Analysis), both being based on vibrational spectroscopy and complemented by a QTAIM analysis of the electron density calculated at the DFT level of theory. The energetics of each reaction were recalculated at the DLPNO-CCSD(T) level of theory. The URVA curvature profiles identified the important chemical events of all five reactions as peroxide OO bond cleavage taking place before the TS (i.e., accounting for the energy barrier) and epoxide CO bond formation together with rehybridization of the carbon atoms of the targeted CC double bond after the TS. The energy decomposition into reaction phase contribution phases showed that the major effect of the catalyst is the weakening of the OO bond to be broken and replacement of OH bond breakage in the non-catalyzed reaction by an energetically more favorable TiO bond breakage. LMA performed at all stationary points rounded up the investigation (i) quantifying OO bond weakening of the oxidizing peroxide upon coordination at the metal atom, (ii) showing that a more synchronous formation of the new CO epoxide bonds correlates with smaller bond strength differences between these bonds, and (iii) elucidating the different roles of the three TiO bonds formed between catalyst and reactants and their interplay as orchestrated by the Sharpless catalyst. We hope that this article will inspire the computational community to use URVA complemented with LMA in the future as an efficient mechanistic tool for the optimization and fine-tuning of current Sharpless catalysts and for the design new of catalysts for epoxidation reactions.  more » « less
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National Science Foundation
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