Stereospecific (Conrotatory) Photochemical Ring Opening of Alkylcyclobutenes in the Gas Phase and in Solution. Ring Opening from the Rydberg Excited State or by Hot Ground State Reaction?
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The photochemistry of 1,2-dimethylcyclobutene and cis- and trans-1,2,3,4-tetramethylcyclobutene has been studied in the gas phase (1 atm; SF6 buffer) and in hydrocarbon solvents with 193-, 214-, and 228-nm light sources. The major products are the isomeric dienes from electrocyclic ring opening and 2-butyne + alkene (ethylene or E-/Z- 2-butene) due to formal [2+2]-cycloreversion. The total yields of dienes relative to 2-butyne are generally higher in the gas phase than in solution but decrease with increasing excitation wavelength under both sets of conditions. In the case of cis-1,2,3,4-tetramethylcyclobutene, 228-nm photolysis results in the stereospecific formation of E,Z-3,4-dimethyl-2,4-hexadiene[Formula: see text]the isomer corresponding to ring opening by the thermally allowed (conrotatory) electrocyclic pathway[Formula: see text]in both the gas phase and solution. All three diene isomers are obtained upon 228-nm photolysis of trans-1,2,3,4-tetramethylcyclobutene, but control experiments suggest that the thermally allowed isomers (E,E- and Z,Z-3,4-dimethyl-2,3-hexadiene) are probably the primary products in this case as well. The results are consistent with cycloreversion resulting from excitation of the low-lying π,R(3s) singlet state and with ring opening proceeding by at least two different mechanisms depending on excitation wavelength. The first, which dominates at short wavelengths, is thought to involve direct reaction of the second excited singlet (π,π*) state of the cyclobutene. The second mechanism, which dominates at long wavelengths, is proposed to ensue either directly from the lowest energy (Rydberg) state or from upper vibrational levels of the ground state, populated by internal conversion from this excited state.
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