Author (Your Name)

Kimberly Graves, Colby College

Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis (Open Access)


Colby College. Chemistry Dept.


Dasan M. Thamattoor


The photolytic phenanthrene-based precursors for both β-methoxycarbene and β-ethoxycarbene were synthesized with and without a deuterium label attached to the a carbon. The incorporation of this deuterium label allowed distinction between a 1, 2-H shift and a 1, 2-O shift pathway to the respective alkyl vinyl ether, without the influence of a primary kinetic isotope effect. Photolyses of these precursors gave rearrangement products of the expected β-alkoxycarbenes. In the case of β-methoxycarbene, no methyl vinyl ether was observed due to its volatility. However, the appearance of aldehyde peaks in the NMR spectra, from an apparent further rearrangement to acetaldehyde through an enol intermediate, indicated that a 1,2-H shift had occurred. Ethyl vinyl ether was isolated following the photolysis of the β-ethoxycarbene precursor. Quantification of the two pathways showed less than 2% undergoing an ethoxy shift to the ethyl vinyl ether. Yield experiments on this photolysis demonstrated a maximum yield of β-ethoxycarbene as 43%, though this decreased as the experiment continued. Computational work on the β-ethoxycarbene system indicates that the triplet scate is more stable than the singlet. In addition, the activation energy to the 1.2-H shift pathway is remarkably low and is clearly consistent with the observed overwhelming preference for this pathway in the experiment.


Carbides, Dichloroethylene, Photochemistry