Hydrostibination of Alkynes: A Radical Mechanism

The addition of Sb-H bonds to alkynes was reported recently as a new hydroelementation reaction that exclusively yields anti-Markovnikov Z-olefins from terminal acetylenes. We examine four possible mechanisms that are consistent with the observed stereochemical and regiochemical outcomes. A comprehensive analysis of solvent, substituent, isotope, additive, and temperature effects on hydrostibination reaction rates definitively refutes three ionic mechanisms involving closed-shell charged intermediates. Instead the data support a fourth pathway featuring neutral radical SbII and SbIII intermediates. Density Functional Theory (DFT) calculations are consistent this model, predicting an activation barrier that is within 1 kcal mol-1 of the experimental value (Eyring analysis) and a rate limiting step that is congruent with experimental kinetic isotope effect. We therefore conclude that hydrostibination of arylacetylenes is initiated by the generation of stibinyl radicals, which then participate in a cycle featuring SbII and SbIII intermediates to yield the observed Z-olefins as products. This mechanistic understanding will enable rational evolution of hydrostibination as a methodology for accessing challenging products such as E-olefins.