A 'meta effect' in the fragmentation reactions of ionised alkyl phenols and alkyl anisoles.

Abstract : The competition between benzylic cleavage (simple bond fission [SBF]) and retro-ene rearrangement (RER) from ionised ortho, meta and para RC(6) H(4) OH and RC(6) H(4) OCH(3) (R = n-C(3) H(7) , n-C(4) H(9) , n-C(5) H(11) , n-C(7) H(15) , n-C(9) H(19) , n-C(15) H(31) ) is examined. It is observed that the SBF/RER ratio is significantly influenced by the position of the substituent on the aromatic ring. As a rule, phenols and anisoles substituted by an alkyl group in meta position lead to more abundant methylene-2,4-cyclohexadiene cations (RER fragmentation) than their ortho and para homologues. This 'meta effect' is explained on the basis of energetic and kinetic of the two reaction channels. Quantum chemistry computations have been used to provide estimate of the thermochemistry associated with these two fragmentation routes. G3B3 calculation shows that a hydroxy or a methoxy group in the meta position destabilises the SBF and stabilises the RER product ions. Modelling of the SBF/RER intensities ratio has been performed assuming two single reaction rates for both fragmentation processes and computing them within the statistical RRKM formalism in the case of ortho, meta and para butyl phenols. It is clearly demonstrated that, combining thermochemistry and kinetics, the inequality (SBF/RER)(meta) < (SBF/RER)(ortho) < (SBF/RER)(para) holds for the butyl phenols series. It is expected that the 'meta effect' described in this study enables unequivocal identification of meta isomers from ortho and para isomers not only of alkyl phenols and alkyl anisoles but also in other alkyl benzene series.
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Guy Bouchoux, Michel Sablier, Tetsuo Miyakoshi, Takashi Honda. A 'meta effect' in the fragmentation reactions of ionised alkyl phenols and alkyl anisoles.. Journal of Mass Spectrometry, Wiley-Blackwell, 2012, 47 (4), pp.539-46. ⟨10.1002/jms.2977⟩. ⟨hal-00880180⟩

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