Understanding the Torquoselectivity in 8π-Electrocyclic Cascade Reactions: Synthesis of Fenestradienes versus Cyclooctatrienes

Unusual and novel polycyclic cyclooctatrienes, fenestradienes, and fenestrenes form readily from trienynes depending on the structure of the starting trienynes and the reaction conditions. The experimentally observed high torquoselectivities and complete diastereoselectivities of the 8π-electrocyclization products have been thoroughly studied using density functional computations at B3PW91/6-31G(d,p). The different <i>P</i>- and <i>M</i>-helical topologies for the Möbius aromatic transition structures are the origin of the observed torquoselectivities in the cyclooctatrienes. The <i>P</i>-helical topologies direct the newly formed single bonds into a favorable <i>equatorial</i> position of the neighboring cycloalkane moieties (<b>X</b> = ring size) that retain their most stable conformation. The <i>M</i>-helical transition structures lead to an <i>axial</i> connection for the smaller rings (<b>X</b> = 4−6) and an <i>equatorial</i> connection for the seven- and eight-membered cycloalkanes. This leads to unfavorable conformations for the larger cycloalkane moieties. Experiments and computations show that for trienynes involving small neighboring cycloalkane groups (<b>X</b> = 4−6) <i>M</i>-helical topology is preferred toward cyclooctatrienes and in the following the corresponding fenestradienes can be formed as kinetic or even thermodynamic products; they convert to their more stable cyclooctatriene valence isomers derived from <i>P</i>-helical transition structures at higher temperatures. For larger cycloalkane moieties with more conformational flexibility only cyclooctatrienes with torquoselectivities derived from <i>P</i>-helical transition structures form.