A computational study of the influence of methyl substituents on competitive ring closure to α- and β-lactones


Ring-closure of substituted 2-chlorosuccinates to α- or β-lactones has been studied by means of MP2/6-311+G(d,p)//MP2/6-31+G(d) calculations in water treated as a polarised continuum (PCM) and in vacuum. Optimised geometries have been obtained for 2-chlorosuccinate and its 2-methyl, 3,3-dimethyl, and 2,3,3-trimethyl derivatives, along with the transition structures and products for intramolecular nucleophilic displacement leading to the 3- or 4-membered rings. Relative enthalpies and Gibbs free energies of activation and reaction are presented, along with key geometrical parameters, and changes in electrostatic-potential-derived atomic charges. The difference in free-energy barriers for α- and β-lactone formation from the 2-methyl substrate at 298 K is less than 1 kJ mol−1. Primary 14C kinetic isotope effects calculated for substitution at C2 are significantly smaller for α-lactone formation than for β, suggesting a possible way to distinguish between the competing pathways of reaction. The B3LYP method without dispersion corrections predicts the wrong relative stability order for methyl-substituted succinate dianions in PCM water.

Organic & Biomolecular Chemistry

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