Tuning Photoenolization-Driven Cycloadditions Using Theory and Spectroscopy

Jiao Yu J. Wang, Mitchell T. Blyth, Michael S. Sherburn, Michelle L. Coote

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


The first broad spectrum investigation into the photoenolization/Diels-Alder (PEDA) sequence was carried out using M06-2X/6-31+G(d,p) in conjunction with SMD solvation and supported by experimental UV–vis spectroscopy. A test set of 20 prodienes was chosen to examine the role of the H atom acceptor group (substituted and unsubstituted carbonyl, thiocarbonyl, and imine), the H atom donor group, and bystander ring substituents. As reaction partners for the photogenerated dienes, a diverse test set of 20 dienophiles was examined, comprising electron rich, electron poor, neutral, strain activated, hydrocarbon, and heteroatom-containing molecules including CO2 and CO. A key finding of this work is the demonstration that the PEDA sequence of carbonyl based prodienes is tolerant of most substitution patterns. Another is that thiocarbonyl derivatives should behave analogously to the carbonyls but are likely to do so much more slowly, due to an inefficient intersystem crossing, an endothermic 1,5-hydrogen atom transfer (HAT) step, and a [1,5] sigmatropic H shift to regenerate the starting material that outcompetes the [4 + 2]cycloaddition. In contrast, the T1 state of the ortho-alkyl imines displays the incorrect orbital symmetry for 1,5-HAT and is correspondingly accompanied by higher barriers, even in the excited state. However, provided these barriers can be overcome, the remaining steps in the PEDA sequence are predicted to be facile. The Diels–Alder reaction is predicted to be of much broader scope than reported synthetic literature: while electron poor dienophiles are expected to be the most reactive partners, ethylene and electron rich alkenes should react at a synthetically useful rate. CO is predicted to undergo a facile (4 + 1)cheletropic addition instead of the normal [4 + 2]cycloaddition pathway. This unique photoenolization/cheletropic addition (PECA) sequence could provide metal-free access to benzannelated cyclopentanones.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1023-1033
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of The American Chemical Society
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 19 Jan 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Photoenolization
  • Cycloadditions
  • Spectroscopy
  • broad spectrum
  • prodienes
  • hydrogen atom


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