Enhanced Mechanistic Understanding Through the Detection of Radical Intermediates in Organic Reactions

Ivan Ocaña, Peter J.H. Williams, James Donald, Neil Griffin, George Hodges, Andrew R. Rickard, Victor Chechik*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Two applications of a radical trap based on a homolytic substitution reaction (SH2') are presented for the trapping of short-lived radical intermediates in organic reactions. The first example is a photochemical cyanomethylation catalyzed by a Ru complex. Two intermediate radicals in the radical chain propagation have been trapped and detected using mass spectrometry (MS), along with the starting materials, products and catalyst degradation fragments. Although qualitative, these results helped to elucidate the reaction mechanism. In the second example, the trapping method was applied to study the radical initiation catalyzed by a triethylboronoxygen mixture. In this case, the concentration of trapped radicals was sufficiently high to enable their detection by nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR). Quantitative measurements made it possible to characterize the radical flux in the system under different reaction conditions (including variations of solvent, temperature and concentration) where modelling was complicated by chain reactions and heterogeneous mass transfer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)123-128
Number of pages6
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 27 Mar 2024


  • Mass spectrometry
  • Mechanistic studies
  • Radical reactions
  • Radical trapping

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