Concerted or Stepwise? : β-Elimination, Nucleophilic Substitution, Copper Catalysed Aziridination and Ruthenium Catalysed Transfer Hydrogenation Studied by Kinetic Isotope Effects and Linear Free-Energy Relationships


This thesis describes the use of kinetic isotope effects, linear free energy relationships and stereochamical studies to distinguish between different mechanistic alternatives and to obtain information about transition state structure. In the first part fluorine and deuterium kinetic isotope effects were determined for the base promoted HF elimination from 4-fluoro-4-(4’-nitrophenyl)butane-2-on. During this work a new method for the determination of fluorine kinetic isotope effects was developed. The results from the study demonstrates that the reaction proceeds via an E1cBip mechanism. In the second part the transition state structure for the SN2 reaction between ethyl chloride and cyanide ion in DMSO was studied. Kinetic isotope effects for six different positions in the reacting system, both in cyanide and ethyl chloride, were determined. The experimental isotope effects were then compared with the theoretically predicted isotope effects. The third part describes the use of Hammett type free-energy relationships and stereochemical evidence to study the mechanism of the copper catalysed alkene aziridination. The results from the study support a model that involves the simultaneous presence of two different copper nitrene intermediates. One which reacts non-stereospecifically via a radical intermediate and one which reacts stereospecifically via a concerted mechanism. In the fourth part a mechanistic study of the Ru(aminoalcohol) catalysed transfer hydrogenation of acetophenone in isopropanol is described. Kinetic isotope effects were determined for both proton and hydride transfer. The observation of significant primary deuterium kinetic isotope effects for both proton and hydride transfer support a mechanism where the proton and hydride are transferred simultaneously in a concerted mechanism

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