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Olefin oxidation with molecular oxygen, promoted by a transition metal catalyst and a thiophenol, involved C=C bond cleavage into the corresponding carbonyl derivatives. This new reaction proceeds under one atmosphere of oxygen, at room temperature, in the presence of an excess of thiophenol and a catalyst such as MnL(2) 3a or VClL(2) 3c. It was applied to aromatic and aliphatic olefins, as well as to functionalized or unfunctionalized acyclic compounds, providing the corresponding ketones and aldehydes in up to 98% yield. The synthetic interest of this catalytic oxidation was illustrated by a one-step preparation of the fragrance (-)-4-acetyl-1-methylcyclohexene 7e in 73% isolated yield. The C=C bond cleavage probably results from a catalyzed decomposition of the beta-hydroperoxysulfide intermediate 12 that is formed by the radical addition of thiophenol to the olefin in the presence of oxygen. Although an excess of the thiophenol was used, it was transformed into the disulfide which could then be reduced without purification in 83% overall yield, thereby allowing for recycling. In addition, the C=C bond cleavage under oxygen could be promoted by catalytic quantities of the thiyl radical, generated by photolysis of the disulfide; thus, in the presence of 0.1 equiv of bis(4-chlorophenyl) disulfide 4b and 5% of the manganese complex 3a, trans-methylstilbene 1b gave, under radiation, benzaldehyde 6a and acetophenone 7a in up to 95% yield. This new reaction offers an alternative to the classical C=C bond cleavage procedures, and further developments in the fields of bioinorganic and environmental chemistry are likely.


X Baucherel, J Uziel, S Jugé. Unexpected catalyzed C=C bond cleavage by molecular oxygen promoted by a thiyl radical. The Journal of organic chemistry. 2001 Jun 29;66(13):4504-10

PMID: 11421768

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