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Chemistry LibreTexts

Addition Reactions involving other Cyclic Onium Intermediates

Sulfenyl chloride additions are initiated by the attack of an electrophilic sulfur species on the pi-electrons of the double bond. The resulting cationic intermediate may be stabilized by the non-bonding valence shell electrons on the sulfur in exactly the same way the halogens exerted their influence. Indeed, a cyclic sulfonium ion intermediate analogous to the bromonium ion is believed to best represent this intermediate (see drawing below).


Figure 1: cyclic sulfonium ion intermediate


Two advantages of the oxymercuration method of adding water to a double bond are its high anti-stereoselectivity and the lack of rearrangement in sensitive cases. These characteristics are attributed to a mercurinium ion intermediate, analogous to the bromonium ion discussed above. In this case it must be d-orbital electrons that are involved in bonding to carbon. A drawing of this intermediate is shown below.


Figure 2: mercurinium ion intermediate

Hydroboration Stereoselectivity

The hydroboration reaction is among the few simple addition reactions that proceed cleanly in a syn fashion. As noted, this is a single-step reaction. Since the bonding of the double bond carbons to boron and hydrogen is concerted, it follows that the geometry of this addition must be syn. Furthermore, rearrangements are unlikely inasmuch as a discrete carbocation intermediate is never formed. These features are illustrated for the hydroboration of α-pinene in the following equation. Since the hydroboration procedure is most commonly used to hydrate alkenes in an anti-Markovnikov fashion, we also need to know the stereoselectivity of the second oxidation reaction, which substitutes a hydroxyl group for the boron atom. Independent study has shown this reaction takes place with retention of configuration so the overall addition of water is also syn.


The hydroboration of α-pinene also provides a nice example of steric hindrance control in a chemical reaction. In the less complex alkenes used in earlier examples the plane of the double bond was often a plane of symmetry, and addition reagents could approach with equal ease from either side. In this case, one of the methyl groups bonded to C-6 (colored blue in the equation) covers one face of the double bond, blocking any approach from that side. All reagents that add to this double bond must therefore approach from the side opposite this methyl.