A computational approach to the synthesis of chiral sulfoxides

    Student thesis: Doctoral thesis


    The synthesis of chiral sulfoxides has been theoretically investigated considering two of the most advanced methods: the vanadium-catalyzed asymmetric oxidation of sulfides with hydrogen peroxide and the DAG method. The mechanism of these reactions was explored at a DFT (Density Functional Theory) level on model systems. The origin of enantioselectivity in the real systems was explored applying hybrid QM/MM (Quantum Mechanics/Molecular Mechanics) methods. The DFT study on the vanadium-catalyzed asymmetric sulfoxidation revealed that this process follows a direct oxygen transfer mechanism in which the substrate is oxidized in a single concerted step. The catalyst is a oxo complex of vanadium(+V) with the oxidant coordinated to the metal as a hydroperoxo ligand. This complex catalyzes the oxidation process reducing the energy barrier from 40.4 to 26.7 kcal/mol. The QM/MM study on the real system showed that there are two possible diastereomers of the catalyst, labeled as A and B, that catalyze the oxidation inducing opposite enantioselectivities. The coexistence of A and B in solution explains the influence of the chiral ligand structure upon enantioselectivity. The DFT study on the DAG method revealed that the dynamic kinetic resolution involved in this transformation follows an addition/elimination mechanism. The key step is the addition in which the alcohol reacts directly with the sulfinyl chloride. This process implies a hydrogen transfer assisted by the base. Triethylamine reduces the barrier of this process from 26.8 to 12.2 kcal/mol. The base also catalyzes the racemization of the sulfinyl chloride reducing the barrier of its pyramidal inversion from 63.4 to 22.3 kcal/mol. The substitution of chlorine by the base was discarded. The QM/MM study of the real system confirmed that the enantioselectivity of this reaction can be easily reversed using different non chiral bases, like pyridine or collidine, as experimentally observed. Our study showed that the steric role of the base becomes critical when pyridine is replaced by collidine. This modification of the base implies an inversion of the chiral distribution of steric bulk around sufur that induces the reversal of enantioselectivity.
    Date of Award29 Jun 2006
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorFeliu Maseras Cuni (Director) & Gregori Ujaque Perez (Director)

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