The electronic structure and the participation of the simplest azomethine imine (AI) in [3+2] cycloaddition (32CA) reactions have been analysed within the Molecular Electron Density Theory (MEDT) using Density Functional Theory (DFT) calculations at the MPWB1K/6-311G(d) level. Topological analysis of the electron localisation function reveals that AI has a pseudoradical
structure, while the conceptual DFT reactivity indices characterises this three-atom-component (TAC) as a moderate electrophile and a good nucleophile. The non-polar 32CA reaction of AI with ethylene takes place through a one-step mechanism with moderate activation energy, 8.7 kcal·mol−1
. A bonding evolution theory study indicates that this reaction takes place through a non-concerted [2n + 2τ] mechanism in which the C–C bond formation is clearly anticipated prior to the C–N one. On the other hand, the polar 32CA reaction of AI with dicyanoethylene takes place through a two-stage one-step
mechanism. Now, the activation energy is only 0.4 kcal·mol−1
, in complete agreement with the high polar character of the more favourable regioisomeric transition state structure. The current MEDT study makes it possible to extend Domingo’s classification of 32CA reactions to a new pseudo(mono)radical
) of reactivity.
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