Mechanistic investigation on the oxygen transfer with the manganese-salen complex

T. Bogaerts, S. Wouters, P. Van der Voort, V. Van Speybroeck
7 (17), 2711–2719


The most well-known application of salen complexes is the use of a chiral ligand loaded with manganese to form the Jacobsen complex. This organometallic catalyst is used in the epoxidation of unfunctionalized olefins and can achieve very high selectivities. Although this application was proposed many years ago, the mechanism of oxygen transfer remains a question until now. In this paper, the epoxidation mechanism is investigated by an ab initio kinetic modeling study. First of all a proper DFT functional is selected which yields the correct ordering of the various spin states. Our results show that the epoxidation proceeds via a radical intermediate. Starting from the radical intermediate, these results can explain the experiments with radical probes. The subtle influences in the transition state using the full Jacobsen catalyst explain the experimentally observed product distribution.