skip to main content


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
Award ID(s):
2102461
NSF-PAR ID:
10342540
Author(s) / Creator(s):
;
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Catalysts
Volume:
12
Issue:
7
ISSN:
2073-4344
Page Range / eLocation ID:
789
Format(s):
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. In this study we investigate the Diels–Alder reaction between methyl acrylate and butadiene, which is catalyzed by BF3 Lewis acid in explicit water solution, using URVA and Local Mode Analysis as major tools complemented with NBO, electron density and ring puckering analyses. We considered four different starting orientations of methyl acrylate and butadiene, which led to 16 DA reactions in total. In order to isolate the catalytic effects of the BF3 catalyst and those of the water environment and exploring how these effects are synchronized, we systematically compared the non-catalyzed reaction in gas phase and aqueous solution with the catalyzed reaction in gas phase and aqueous solution. Gas phase studies were performed at the B3LYP/6-311+G(2d,p) level of theory and studies in aqueous solution were performed utilizing a QM/MM approach at the B3LYP/6-311+G(2d,p)/AMBER level of theory. The URVA results revealed reaction path curvature profiles with an overall similar pattern for all 16 reactions showing the same sequence of CC single bond formation for all of them. In contrast to the parent DA reaction with symmetric substrates causing a synchronous bond formation process, here, first the new CC single bond on the CH2 side of methyl acrylate is formed followed by the CC bond at the ester side. As for the parent DA reaction, both bond formation events occur after the TS, i.e., they do not contribute to the energy barrier. What determines the barrier is the preparation process for CC bond formation, including the approach diene and dienophile, CC bond length changes and, in particular, rehybridization of the carbon atoms involved in the formation of the cyclohexene ring. This process is modified by both the BF3 catalyst and the water environment, where both work in a hand-in-hand fashion leading to the lowest energy barrier of 9.06 kcal/mol found for the catalyzed reaction R1 in aqueous solution compared to the highest energy barrier of 20.68 kcal/mol found for the non-catalyzed reaction R1 in the gas phase. The major effect of the BF3 catalyst is the increased mutual polarization and the increased charge transfer between methyl acrylate and butadiene, facilitating the approach of diene and dienophile and the pyramidalization of the CC atoms involved in the ring formation, which leads to a lowering of the activation energy. The catalytic effect of water solution is threefold. The polar environment leads also to increased polarization and charge transfer between the reacting species, similar as in the case of the BF3 catalyst, although to a smaller extend. More important is the formation of hydrogen bonds with the reaction complex, which are stronger for the TS than for the reactant, thus stabilizing the TS which leads to a further reduction of the activation energy. As shown by the ring puckering analysis, the third effect of water is space confinement of the reacting partners, conserving the boat form of the six-member ring from the entrance to the exit reaction channel. In summary, URVA combined with LMA has led to a clearer picture on how both BF3 catalyst and aqueous environment in a synchronized effort lower the reaction barrier. These new insights will serve to further fine-tune the DA reaction of methyl acrylate and butadiene and DA reactions in general. 
    more » « less
  2. We introduce two new tools for the analysis of bond forming/breaking processes taking place during catalytic reactions, the Uni!ed Reaction Valley Approach (URVA) and the Local Mode Analysis (LMA), both being based on vibrational spectroscopy. We discuss how URVA and LMA complement currently used computational approaches and provide valuable insights into catalytic processes, supporting current design efforts aiming at more ef!cient and environmentally friendly catalysts. Three examples are presented; Au- catalyzed [3,3]-sigmatropic rearrangement of allyl acetate, Re-catalyzed CO2 cycloaddition to epoxides, and a-ketoamide inhibitors for SARS-CoV-2 main protease. We hope that URVA and LMA will become routinely applied tools in computational catalysis and also enter the classroom. 
    more » « less
  3. The catalytic effects of iridium pincer complexes for the hydrogenation of carbon dioxide were investigated with the Unified Reaction Valley Approach (URVA), exploring the reaction mechanism along the reaction path traced out by the reacting species on the potential energy surface. Further details were obtained with the Local Mode Analysis performed at all stationary points, complemented by the Natural Bond Orbital and Bader’s Quantum Atoms in Molecules analyses. Each of the five reaction paths forming the catalytic cycle were calculated at the DFT level complemented with DLPNO-CCSD(T) single point calculations at the stationary points. For comparison, the non-catalytic reaction was also investigated. URVA curvature profiles identified all important chemical events taking place in the non-catalyzed reaction and in the five reactions forming the catalytic cycle, and their contribution to the activation energy was disclosed. The non-catalytic reaction has a large unfavorable activation energy of 76.3 kcal/mol, predominately caused by HH bond cleave in the H2 reactant. As shown by our study, the main function of the iridium pincer catalyst is to split up the one–step non-catalytic reaction into an energy efficient multistep cycle, where HH bond cleavage is replaced by the cleavage of a weaker IrH bond with a small contribution to the activation energy. The dissociation of the final product from the catalyst requires the cleavage of an IrO bond, which is also weak, and contributes only to a minor extent to the activation energy. This, in summary, leads to the substantial lowering of the overall activation barrier by about 50 kcal/mol for the catalyzed reaction. We hope that this study inspires the community to add URVA to their repertoire for the investigation of catalysis reactions. 
    more » « less
  4. The Sharpless reaction is an enantioselective epoxidation of prochiral allylic alcohols that employs a Ti(IV) catalyst formed from titanium tetra(isopropoxide), Ti(O-i-Pr)4, diethyl tartrate (DET) and the oxidizing agent tert-butyl hydroperoxide. The M06-2X DFT functional with the 6-311+G(d,p) basis set has been employed to model the structures and energetics of the Sharpless epoxidation reaction. The monomeric tetracoordinate titanium(IV) diethyltartrate is thermodynamically strongly favored to dimerize, producing pentacoordinate catalyst, [Ti(DET)(O-i-Pr)2]2, that is a more reactive chiral epoxidation catalyst. The rapid ligand exchange reactions needed to generate the “loaded” catalyst and to repeat the overall catalytic cycle have been examined and are found to have activation energies that are much lower than the epoxidation barriers. The transition structures and activation energies for the enantioselective epoxidation of allyl alcohol, trans-methyl-allyl alcohol and trans-tert-butyl-allyl alcohol with the “loaded” Sharpless catalyst, [Ti2(DET)2 (O-i-Pr)2-(OAllyl)-(OOt-Bu)], are presented. The effect of the C=O•••Ti interactions on the activation energies and the significance of the O-C-C=C dihedral angle on the enantioselectivity of the epoxidation reaction are discussed. 
    more » « less
  5. Both metal-catalyzed and organocatalytic transfer hydrogenation reactions are widely employed for the reduction of CO and CN bonds. However, selective transfer hydrogenation reactions of CC bonds remain challenging. Therefore, the chemoselective transfer hydrogenation of olefins under mild conditions and in the absence of metal catalysts, using readily available and inexpensive reducing agents ( i.e. primary and secondary alcohols), will mark a significant advancement towards the development of green transfer hydrogenation strategies. Described herein is an unconventional catalyst-free transfer hydrogenation reaction of activated alkenes using isopropanol as an eco-friendly reductant and solvent. The reaction gives convenient synthetic access to a wide range of substituted malonic acid half oxyesters (SMAHOs) in moderate to good yields. Mechanistic investigations point towards an unprecedented hydrogen bond-assisted transfer hydrogenation process. 
    more » « less