We have identified the most likely reaction mechanism for oxidizing heptafulvenes to the corresponding tropones by experimental and theoretical investigations. The experimental studies were done by coupling a three-dimensional printed miniaturized reactor with an integrated electrospray ionization needle to a mass spectrometer. Using the experimentally observed ions as a basis, nine alternative reaction pathways were investigated with density functional theory calculations. The lowest energy reaction pathway starts with the formation of an epoxide that is opened upon the addition of a second equivalent of the oxidizing species meta-chloroperoxybenzoic acid. The adduct formed then undergoes a Criegee-like rearrangement to yield a positively charged hemiketal, which on deprotonation dissociates into acetone resembles a Hock-like rearrangement. and tropone. Overall, the reaction mechanism resembles a Hock-like rearrangement.
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