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Strained cycloalkynes are of considerable interest to theoreticians and experimentalists, and possess much synthetic value as well. Herein, a series of cyclic alkylidenecarbenes—formally obtained by replacing the carbonyl oxygen of four-, five-, and six-membered lactams, lactones, and thiolactones with a divalent carbon—were modeled at the CCSD(T)/cc-pVTZ//B3LYP/6-311+G** and CCSD(T)/cc-pVTZ//CCSD/6-311+G** levels of theory. The singlet carbenes were found to be more stable than the triplets. The strained heterocyclic alkynes formed by ring expansion of these singlet carbenes were also modeled. Interestingly, the C≡C bonds in the five-membered heterocycles, obtained from the rearrangement of β-lactam- and β-lactone-derived alkylidenecarbenes, displayed lengths intermediate between formal double and triple bonds. Furthermore, 2-(1-azacyclobutylidene)carbene was found to be nearly isoenergetic with its ring-expanded isomer, and 1-oxacyclopent-2-yne was notably higher in energy than its precursor carbene. In all other cases, the cycloalkynes were lower in energy than the corresponding carbenes. The transition states for ring-expansion were always lower for the 1,2-carbon shifts than for 1,2-nitrogen or oxygen shifts, but higher than for the 1,2-sulfur shifts. These predictions should be verifiable using carbenes bearing appropriate isotopic labels. Computed vibrational spectra for the carbenes, and their ring-expanded isomers, are presented and could be of value to matrix isolation experiments.


alkylidenecarbenes, rearrangements, strained cycloalkynes, calculations

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


This work is freely available under a Creative Commons license.