The Molecularity of the Newman-Kwart Rearrangement

Matthew Burns, Guy C. Lloyd-Jones*, Jonathan D. Moseley, Joseph S. Renny

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


It was recently reported that the venerable Newman-Kwart rearrangement (1 -> 2) proceeds via mixed first- and second-order kinetics. Prior to this, the rearrangement had been considered to proceed exclusively via an intramolecular O(Ar)-> S(Ar) migration. A new bimolecular pathway, possibly involving an 8-membered cyclic transition state, was proposed to account for reaction rates that increased disproportionately with substrate concentration under microwave heating conditions. We report a reanalysis of the kinetics and molecularity of the rearrangement of N,N-dimethyl O-(p-nitrophenyl)thiocarbamate 1a in N,N-dimethylacetamide solvent. Using HPLC, isotopic labeling ((2)H, (18)O, (34)S), and ESI-ICRMS methods, we show that there is no evidence for a bimolecular pathway en route to 2a, with near-perfect exponential decay in 1a at concentrations ranging from 0.11 to 4.70 M. Instead, it is demonstrated that under the microwave heating conditions, a delayed negative feedback signal to the microwave power balancing loop results in oscillatory reaction overheating. Due to higher tan delta in the solute, the amplitude of this oscillation increases with the concentration of 1a, and this phenomenon best accounts for the kinetic behavior previously misinterpreted as being mixed first- and second-order in nature.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6347-6353
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Organic Chemistry
Issue number19
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2010



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