Combined Multistate and Kohn-Sham Density Functional Theory Studies of the Elusive Mechanism of N-Dealkylation of N,N-Dimethylanilines Mediated by the Biomimetic Nonheme Oxidant FeIV(O)(N4Py)(ClO4)2

Yang, L.; Chen, X.; Qu, Z.; Gao, J.  Frontiers in Chemistry, 2018, 6, 406.

The oxidative C-H bond activation mediated by heme and nonheme enzymes and related biomimetics is one of the most interesting processes in bioinorganic and oxidative chemistry. However, the mechanisms of these reactions are still elusive and controversy due to the involvement of highly reactive metal-oxo intermediates with multiple spin states, despite extensive experimental efforts, especially for the N-dealkylation of N,N-dialkyalinines. In this work, we employed multistate density functional theory (MSDFT) and the Kohn-Sham DFT to investigate the mechanism of N-demethylation of N,N-dimethyalinines oxidized by the reaction intermediate FeIV(O)(N4Py)(ClO4)2. The Kohn-Sham DFT study demonstrated that the reaction proceeds via a rate-limiting hydrogen atom transfer (HAT) step and a subsequent barrier-free oxygen rebound step to form the carbinol product. The MSDFT investigation on the first C-H activation further showed that this step is an initial hydrogen atom abstraction that is highly correlated between CEPT and HAT, i.e., both CEPT and HAT processes make significant contributions to the mechanism before reaching the diabatic crossing point, then the valence bond character of the adiabatic ground state is switched to the CEPT product configuration. The findings from this work may be applicable to other hydrogen abstraction process.