A comprehensive experimental and theoretical study of the reactivity patterns and reaction mechanisms in alkane hydroxylation, olefin epoxidation, cyclohexene oxidation, and sulfoxidation reactions by a mononuclear nonheme ruthenium(IV)-oxo complex, [RuIV(O)(terpy)(bpm)]2+ (1), has been conducted. In alkane hydroxylation (i.e., oxygen rebound vs oxygen non-rebound mechanisms), both the experimental and theoretical results show that the substrate radical formed via a rate-determining H atom abstraction of alkanes by 1 prefers dissociation over oxygen rebound and desaturation processes. In the oxidation of olefins by 1, the observations of a kinetic isotope effect (KIE) value of 1 and styrene oxide formation lead us to conclude that an epoxidation reaction via oxygen atom transfer (OAT) from the RuIVO complex to the C-C double bond is the dominant pathway. Density functional theory (DFT) calculations show that the epoxidation reaction is a two-step, two-spin-state process. In contrast, the oxidation of cyclohexene by 1 affords products derived from allylic C-H bond oxidation, with a high KIE value of 38(3). The preference for H atom abstraction over C-C double bond epoxidation in the oxidation of cyclohexene by 1 is elucidated by DFT calculations, which show that the energy barrier for C-H activation is 4.5 kcal mol-1 lower than the energy barrier for epoxidation. In the oxidation of sulfides, sulfoxidation by the electrophilic Ru-oxo group of 1 occurs via a direct OAT mechanism, and DFT calculations show that this is a two-spin-state reaction in which the transition state is the lowest in the S = 0 state.
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