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Keywords:

  • ab initio calculations;
  • catalytic electrons;
  • concerted reactions;
  • metastable compounds;
  • reaction mechanisms
Thumbnail image of graphical abstract

Upon impact of a low-energy electron on a neutral molecule, an intermediate metastable electron–molecule compound is formed. This species can undergo electron-catalyzed two-bond breaking or cycloelimination, as in the simplest case of the cyclobutane–ethylene conversion (see scheme). This mechanism is illustrated for the quadricyclanone–norbornadienone cycloelimination reaction using ab initio methods, and its generality appears promising.