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Reaction Intermediates and Mechanisms 

Reaction intermediates lie at the heart of reaction mechanisms. The first evidence of their role often comes from product studies and indirect experiments which suggest their existence, but the latest techniques also enable us to study these short-lived species directly. Methods for studying intermediates include generating them as fast as they are destroyed, trapping them during their reactions, monitoring them over very short time scales, and modelling their behaviour using computational chemistry.
The module focuses on condensed-phase reactions whose mechanisms involve the formation of short-lived intermediates. It includes a wide variety of examples chosen from inorganic chemistry, organic chemistry, and biochemistry, and a detailed consideration of spectroscopic techniques used to study their structure and reactivity. The module gives an interdisciplinary view of recent developments at this frontier of modern chemistry

Learning objectives

  • an understanding of the role and properties of intermediates in condensed phase reaction mechanisms;
  • a knowledge of methods to study reaction intermediates, including direct spectroscopic and kinetic observations in real time, as well as trapping and product studies;
  • an ability to interpret experimental data and to design new experiments to test hypotheses on reaction intermediates and mechanisms. 
  • an enhanced ability to interpret experimental data 
  • an enhanced ability to design new experiments to test hypotheses

Organic intermediates in synthesis and biology

Generation, structure, stability, detection, physical organic chemistry studies, trapping, and reactions of short-lived organic intermediates, including carbenes and radical anions and cations

Interrogation of mechanism in catalytic organometallic chemistry

Generation, detection, characterisation, and kinetics of reaction intermediates, including examples from inorganic, organic, and biological chemistry.Mechanistic studies involving organometallic species; experimental and computational methods to investigate catalytic reaction mechanisms; development of new catalysts with improved activity and selectivity.   

NMR studies of reaction intermediates and mechanisms

Generation, detection, characterisation, and kinetics of reaction intermediates, including examples from inorganic, organic, and biological chemistry.

Mechanistic studies with EPR spectroscopy

Principles and applications of electron paramagnetic resonance spectroscopy; interpretation of spectra; detecting and trapping free radical intermediates; modern techniques.

Time-resolved spectroscopy for the study of fast reactions

Time-resolved UV-visible absorption, emission, infrared, and resonance Raman  spectroscopy; pulsed laser methods; organic and inorganic examples.


Chemistry Core Modules 1-4

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