Roaming dynamics in radical addition-elimination reactions

Nat Commun. 2014 Jun 6;5:4064. doi: 10.1038/ncomms5064.


Radical addition-elimination reactions are a major pathway for transformation of unsaturated hydrocarbons. In the gas phase, these reactions involve formation of a transient strongly bound intermediate. However, the detailed mechanism and dynamics for these reactions remain unclear. Here we show, for reaction of chlorine atoms with butenes, that the Cl addition-HCl elimination pathway occurs from an abstraction-like Cl-H-C geometry rather than a conventional three-centre or four-centre transition state. Furthermore, access to this geometry is attained by roaming excursions of the Cl atom from the initially formed adduct. In effect, the alkene π cloud serves to capture the Cl atom and hold it, allowing many subsequent opportunities for the energized intermediate to find a suitable approach to the abstraction geometry. These bimolecular roaming reactions are closely related to the roaming radical dynamics recently discovered to play an important role in unimolecular reactions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.