Journal of the American Chemical Society, Vol.133, No.32, 12608-12623, 2011
Rules for Anionic and Radical Ring Closure of Alkynes
This work reexamined the stereoelectronic basis for the "favored attack trajectories" regarding the nucleophilic and radical cyclizations of alkynes. In contrast to the original Baldwin rules, the acute attack angle of a nucleophile leading to the proposed endo-dig preference for the formation of small cycles is less favorable stereoelectronically than the alternative obtuse trajectory leading to the formation of exo-dig products. For smaller cycles, this intrinsic stereoelectronic preference can be masked by the greater thermodynamic stability of the less strained endo-products. Unbiased comparison of competing cyclization attacks has been accomplished via dissection of the activation barrier into the intrinsic barrier and thermodynamic component via Marcus theory. Intrinsic barriers of thermoneutral reactions strongly favor exo-dig closures, in full accord with the greater magnitude of two-electron bond forming interactions for the obtuse trajectory. This analysis agrees very well with experimental observations of efficient 3-exo-dig and 4-exo-dig cydizations predicted to be unfavorable by the Baldwin rules and with the calculated 3-exo-/4endo-, 4-exo-/5-endo-, and 5-exo-/6-endo-dig selectivities in the cyclizations of carbon-, nitrogen-, and oxygen-centered nucleophiles. The generality of these predictions is confirmed by analogous trends for the related radical cyclizations where the stereoelectronically favorable exo-closures are also preferred kinetically, with a few exceptions where a large difference in product stability skews the intrinsic stereoelectronic trends.