What the Heck? – Automated regioselectivity calculations of palladium-catalyzed Heckreactions using quantum chemistry

29 September 2022, Version 1
This content is a preprint and has not undergone peer review at the time of posting.


We present a quantum chemistry (QM)-based method that computes the relative energies of intermediates in the Heck reaction that relate to the regioselective reaction outcome: branched (α), linear (β), or a mix of the two. The calculations are done for two different reaction pathways (neutral and cationic) and are based on r2SCAN-3c single point calculations on GFN2-xTB geometries that, in turn, derive from a GFNFFxTB conformational search. The method is completely automated and is sufficiently efficient to allow for the calculation on thousands of reaction outcomes. The method can mostly reproduce systematic experimental studies where the ratios of regioisomers are carefully determined. For a larger dataset extracted from Reaxys the results are somewhat worse with accuracies of 63 % for β-selectivity using the neutral pathway and 29 % for α-selectivity using the cationic pathway. Our analysis of the dataset suggests that only the major or desired regioisomer is reported in the literature in many cases, which makes accurate comparisons difficult. The code is freely available on GitHub under the MIT open source license: https://github.com/jensengroup/HeckQM

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