Thermodynamics Control Reactivity of Hypervalent Iodine-Mediated Styrene Hetero- and Homodimerization: Mechanistic Insights

A mechanistic insight into the hetero- and homodimerizations (HETD and HOMD) of styrenes promoted by hypervalent iodine reagents (HVIRs; DMP and PIDA) and facilitated by HFIP to yield all trans cyclobutanes is reported using density functional theory (DFT) calculations. The HFIP molecules lower the energy of the single electron oxidation (SEO) or initiation as a result of strong hydrogen bonding interactions that substantially stabilize the frontier orbitals before and after electron addition. The HETD or HOMD is a radically-characterized π-π stacked head-to-head stepwise [2+2] cycloaddition initiated via SEO by DMP or PIDA, respectively. DFT results supported by quasiclassical molecular dynamics simulations show that HOMD is a competing pathway to HETD although the latter is relatively faster, in accordance with experimental observations. The initiation is a rate-determining step as a thermodynamically endergonic and propagation is accomplished by radically-cationic hetero- and homodimerized intermediate as propagation is faster than single electron reduction (SER) or termination by radically-anionic HVIRs. Initiation by DMP found to be faster and less endergonic than by PIDA due to (1) the energy gap of electron transfer in a SEO step by I(V) is lower than I(III) and (2) the SOMO energy of the radical anion I(V) is lower than I(III). Furthermore, the presence of p-methoxy group is essential to underpin the SEO by which the more thermodynamically favorable SEO leads to a successful cycloaddition as the thermodynamic term represents a major contribution in the initiative barrier.