Transition states of strain-promoted metal-free click chemistry: 1,3-dipolar cycloadditions of phenyl azide and cyclooctynes

Org Lett. 2008 Apr 17;10(8):1633-6. doi: 10.1021/ol8003657. Epub 2008 Mar 26.


Density functional theory (B3LYP) calculations on the transition states for the Huisgen 1,3-dipolar cycloadditions of phenyl azide with acetylene, cyclooctyne, and difluorocyclooctyne are reported. The low activation energy of the cyclooctyne "strain-promoted" cycloaddition (DeltaE = 8.0) compared to the strain-free acetylene cycloaddition (DeltaE = 16.2) is due to decreased distortion energy (DeltaEd) of cyclooctyne (DeltaDeltaEd = 4.6) and phenyl azide (DeltaDeltaEd = 4.5) to achieve that cycloaddition transition state. Electronegative fluorine substituents on cyclooctyne further increase the rate of cycloaddition by increasing interaction energies.