Chemists have many options for elucidating reaction mechanisms. Global kinetic analysis and classic transition-state probes (e.g., LFERs, Eyring) inevitably form the cornerstone of any strategy, yet their application to increasingly sophisticated synthetic methodologies often leads to a wide range of indistinguishable mechanistic proposals. Computational chemistry provides powerful tools for narrowing the field in such cases, yet wholly simulated mechanisms must be interpreted with great caution. Heavy-atom kinetic isotope effects (KIEs) offer an exquisite but underutilized method for reconciling the two approaches, anchoring the theoretician in the world of calculable observables and providing the experimentalist with atomistic insights. This Perspective provides a personal outlook on this synergy. It surveys the computation of heavy-atom KIEs and their measurement by NMR spectroscopy, discusses recent case studies, highlights the intellectual reward that lies in alignment of experiment and theory, and reflects on the changes required in chemical education in the area.
|Journal||Journal of the American Chemical Society|
|Early online date||6 Dec 2021|
|Publication status||E-pub ahead of print - 6 Dec 2021|