Ring-opening dynamics of the cyclopropyl radical and cation: the transition state nature of the cyclopropyl cation


We provide compelling experimental and theoretical evidence for the transition state nature of the cyclopropyl cation. Synchrotron photoionization spectroscopy employing coincidence techniques together with a novel simulation based on high-accuracy ab initio calculations reveal that the cation is unstable via its allowed disrotatory ring-opening path. The ring strains of the cation and the radical are similar, but both ring opening paths for the radical are forbidden when the full electronic symmetries are considered. These findings are discussed in light of the early predictions by Longuet-Higgins alongside Woodward and Hoffman; we also propose a simple phase space explanation for the appearance of the cyclopropyl photoionization spectrum. The results of this work allow the refinement of the cyclopropane C–H bond dissociation energy, in addition to the cyclopropyl radical and cation cyclization energies, via the Active Thermochemical Tables approach.

J. Am. Chem. Soc.
Marie-Aline Martin-Drumel
Marie-Aline Martin-Drumel

My research interests focus on molecular spectroscopy of stable molecules and reactive species, and its applications for astrophysics and physical-chemistry.