Kinetic Deuterium Isotope Effects on the Reactions of 2-(4-Methoxyphenyl)Oxirane in Water Solutions

Ram S. Mohan, Victoria C. Ukachukwu, Dale L. Whalen

Research output: Journal ArticleArticlepeer-review


The rates of reaction of 2-(4-methoxyphenyl)oxirane (4-methoxystyrene oxide), trans -3-deutereo-2-(4-methoxyphenyl)oxirane and 3,3-dideutereo-2-(4-methoxyphenyl)oxirane in water solutions were measured as functions of pH. Kinetic deuterium isotope effects for the reactions of the mono- and di-deuterated (4-methoxyphenyl)oxiranes were determined for both the acid-catalyzed hydrolysis to diols and the pH-independent reactions leading mostly to rearranged aldehyde and involving a 1,2-hydrogen migration. The inverse kinetic deuterium isotopes for acid-catalyzed hydrolyses of the deuterated (4-methoxyphenyl)oxiranes to diols are consistent with rate-limiting epoxide ring opening. The magnitudes of the normal kinetic deuterium isotope effects on the pH-independent reactions of deuterated 4-methoxyphenyloxiranes are significantly smaller than the deuterium isotope effect on the aldehyde-forming step, and are rationalized by a reversible epoxide ring opening step that is partially rate-limiting. The magnitude of the partitioning isotope effect on the hydrogen migration step is consistent with isotope effects determined by Professor Coxon’s laboratory on the Lewis acid-catalyzed rearrangements of deuterated phenyloxiranes in organic solvents.

Original languageAmerican English
StatePublished - 2006


  • Phenyloxiranes
  • oxirane-carbonyl rearrangement
  • kinetic isotope effects.


  • Organic Chemistry

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