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Prediction of the outcome of ring opening of small organic rings under cationic conditions can be challenging due to the intermediacy of nonclassical carbocations. For example, the solvolysis of cyclobutyl or cyclopropylmethyl derivatives generates up to four products on nucleophilic capture or elimination via cyclopropylcarbinyl and bicyclobutonium ions. Here, we show that such reaction outcomes can be controlled by subtle changes to the structure of nonclassical carbocation. Using bicyclo[1.1.0]butanes as cation precursors, the regio- and stereochemistry of ring opening is shown to depend on the degree and nature of the substituents on the cationic intermediates. Reaction outcomes are rationalized using computational models, resulting in a flowchart to predict product formation from a given cation precursor.

Original publication




Journal article


Sci Adv

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