The Journal of organic chemistry

Barriers to rotation in methyl formate by dynamic NMR spectroscopy and barriers to 1,3 oxygen-to-oxygen migration in methyl formate and trifluoromethyl formate by ab initio calculations.

PMID 11529735


Free-energy barriers of 9.85 and 11.91 +/- 0.15 kcal/mol at -70.8 degrees C were found by dynamic NMR spectroscopy for the E-to-Z and Z-to-E conversions, respectively, of methyl formate (1) enriched in 13C to 99% for the carbonyl carbon [methyl formate 13C (2)]. These barriers are higher than the literature values reported for -53 degrees C. The free-energy barrier to 1,3 oxygen-to-oxygen migration of the methyl group in methyl formate was determined by ab initio calculations at several levels. The value of 58.7 kcal/mol obtained at the MP2/6-311+G (df,pd) level was compared to a literature barrier for this process (MINDO/3) and to barriers for related compounds. A free-energy barrier of 63.0 kcal/mol for the oxygen - to - oxygen migration of the CF3 group in trifluoromethyl formate (3) was calculated at the MP2/6-31+G level.