Understanding C-H bond oxidations: H. and H- transfer in the oxidation of toluene by permanganate

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Science  29 Sep 1995:
Vol. 269, Issue 5232, pp. 1849-1851
DOI: 10.1126/science.7569922


The oxidation of toluene by permanganate has been studied as a model for the oxidation of C-H bonds by metal reagents, metalloenzymes, and metal oxide surfaces. In water, the reaction proceeds by hydride (H-) transfer from toluene to a permanganate oxygen, whereas in toluene solution, permanganate abstracts a hydrogen atom (H.). The ability of permanganate to abstract a hydrogen atom is rationalized on the basis of the strong O-H bond formed on H. addition to permanganate. This approach allows understanding and prediction of the rates of hydrogen atom transfer from substrates to metal active sites.