KOtBu as a single electron donor? Revisiting the halogenation of alkanes with CBr4 and CCl4

Emery, Katie J. and Young, Allan and Arokianathar, J. Norman and Tuttle, Tell and Murphy, John A. (2018) KOtBu as a single electron donor? Revisiting the halogenation of alkanes with CBr4 and CCl4. Molecules, 23 (5). ISSN 1420-3049

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    Abstract

    The search for reactions where KOtBu and other tert-alkoxides might behave as single electron donors led us to explore their reactions with tetrahalomethanes, CX4, in the presence of adamantane. We recently reported the halogenation of adamantane under these conditions. These reactions appeared to mirror the analogous known reaction of NaOH with CBr4 under phase-transfer conditions, where initiation features single electron transfer from a hydroxide ion to CBr4. We now report evidence from experimental and computational studies that KOtBu and other alkoxide reagents do not go through an analogous electron transfer. Rather, the alkoxides form hypohalites upon reacting with CBr4 or CCl4, and homolytic decomposition of appropriate hypohalites initiates the halogenation of adamantane.