Theoretical study of the reactivity of ketene with free radicals

Kuang-Sen Sung, Thomas T. Tidwell

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37 Citations (Scopus)


The structures and energies for the addition of free radicals R· (R = H, CH3, OH, F, SiH3, Cl) to CH2=C=O to give the radicals RCH2Ċ=O, ĊH2(C=O)R, CH2=ĊOR have been calculated by ab initio and B3LYP-DFT methods, and the latter method gives good agreement with available experimental energies. Product radicals ĊH2C(=O)R for groups R which possess electron lone pairs are stabilized and have predominant spin density on carbon, and this is attributed to conjugation of the carbonyl group in the product with substituents OH, F, and Cl at the α-position. Additions of H and SiH3have lower barriers to form the more stable product RCH2Ċ=O, which for the latter is favored due to hyperconjugative stabilization by the β-SiH3. For CH3attack at both carbons is competitive, while for OH, F, and Cl, the barriers are low for attack at either carbon, although attack at C(α) gives much more stable products. Initial complexes between ketene and the CH3, OH, SiH3, and Cl radicals are detected, and for Cl using B3LYP this species has the structure of a π-complex with the C=C double bond that is stabilized by 16.2 kcal/mol relative to the reactants and forms ĊH2C(=O)Cl with a barrier of 2.8 kcal/mol. For F no barriers for addition to either carbon were found, but for B3LYP there is a barrier of 27.6 kcal/mol for conversion of FCH2Ċ=O to ĊH2C(=O)F, which is more stable by 19.1 kcal/mol. The corresponding rearrangement of ClCH2Ċ=O has a barrier of 4.6 kcal/mol, and the predicted preference for initial attack at C(β) to give the less stable product agrees with experiment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9690-9697
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Organic Chemistry
Issue number26
Publication statusPublished - 1998 Dec 25

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Organic Chemistry


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