Intramolecular Proton Transfer in the Isomerization of Hydroxyacetone: A Detailed Characterization Based on Reaction Force Analysis and the Bond Fragility Spectrum


The mechanism of isomerization of hydroxyacetone to 2-hydroxypropanal is studied within the framework of reaction force analysis at the M06-2X/6-311++G(d,p) level of theory. Three unique pathways are considered: (i) a step-wise mechanism that proceeds through formation of the Z-isomer of their shared enediol intermediate, (ii) a step-wise mechanism that forms the E-isomer of the enediol, and (iii) a concerted pathway that bypasses the enediol intermediate. Energy calculations show that the concerted pathway has the lowest activation energy barrier at 45.7 kcal mol-1. The reaction force, chemical potential, and reaction electronic flux are calculated for each reaction to characterize electronic changes throughout the mechanism. The reaction force constant is calculated in order to investigate the synchronous/asynchronous nature of the concerted intramolecular proton transfers involved. Additional characterization of synchronicity is provided by calculating the bond fragility spectrum for each mechanism.

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Supplementary material

joseph derricotte ijqc 2020 SI