The reduction of cinnamaldehyde by lithium aluminium hydride (LAH) was reported in a classic series of experiments,, dating from 1947-8. The reaction was first introduced into the organic chemistry laboratories here at Imperial College decades ago, vanished for a short period, and has recently been reintroduced again.‡ The experiment is really simple in concept; add LAH to cinnamaldehyde and you get just reduction of the carbonyl group; invert the order of addition and you additionally get reduction of the double bond. Here I investigate the mechanism of these reductions using computation (ωB97XD/6-311+G(d,p)/SCRF=diethyl ether).
- R.F. Nystrom, and W.G. Brown, "Reduction of Organic Compounds by Lithium Aluminum Hydride. I. Aldehydes, Ketones, Esters, Acid Chlorides and Acid Anhydrides", Journal of the American Chemical Society, vol. 69, pp. 1197-1199, 1947. http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/ja01197a060
- R.F. Nystrom, and W.G. Brown, "Reduction of Organic Compounds by Lithium Aluminum Hydride. II. Carboxylic Acids", J. Am. Chem. Soc., vol. 69, pp. 2548-2549, 1947. http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/ja01202a082
- F.A. Hochstein, and W.G. Brown, "Addition of Lithium Aluminum Hydride to Double Bonds", Journal of the American Chemical Society, vol. 70, pp. 3484-3486, 1948. http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/ja01190a082