Irradiation (λ > 330 nm) of 2-chloro-4-nitroanisole (1) at 25 °C in aqueous NaOH forms three substitution photoproducts: 2-methoxy-5-nitrophenol (2), 2-chloro-4-nitrophenol (3), and 3-chloro-4-methoxyphenol (4), in chemical yields of 69.2%, 14.3%, and 16.5%. The activation energies for the elementary steps from the triplet state at 25 °C were determined to be 1.8, 2.4, and 2.7 kcal/mol, respectively. The chemical yields of each of the three products were determined for exhaustive irradiations at 0, 35, and 70 °C. The variation with temperature of the experimental yields is reproduced almost exactly by the yields calculated with the Arrhenius equation. This indicates that activation energy is the fundamental property related to regioselectivity in nucleophilic aromatic photosubstitution of the S(N)2 Ar* type. The many methods proposed for predicting regioselectivity in reactions of this type have had limited success and have not been related to activation energy.
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