Posts Tagged ‘open shell systems’

Mechanistic Ménage à trois

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

Curly arrow pushing is one of the essential tools of a mechanistic chemist. Many a published article will speculate about the arrow pushing in a mechanism, although it is becoming increasingly common for these speculations to be backed up by quantitative quantum mechanical and dynamical calculations. These have the potential of exposing the underlying choreography of the electronic dance (the order in which the steps take place). The basic grammar of describing that choreography tends to be the full-headed curly arrow for closed shell systems and its half-barbed equivalent for open shell systems. An effectively unstated and hence implicit rule for closed shell systems is that only one curly arrow is used per breaking or forming bond, i.e. electrons move around bonds in pairs. So consider the following reaction (inspired by a posting on  Steve Bachrach’s blog)