Kinetic detection of osmium(VI) ester intermediates during the OsO4-mediated aqueous dihydroxylation of chloroethylenes

Mario Gabričević, Gábor Lente, István Fábián

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The kinetics and mechanism of the cis dihydroxylation of cis-1,2-dichloroethylene, trans-1,2-dichloroethylene, and trichloroethylene by osmium tetroxide was studied systematically in aqueous solution. The stoichiometry of the process was determined based on the principle of continuous variation of reactant ratios with spectrophotometric detection. The results always showed 1:1 stoichiometry, which is in agreement with dihydroxylation. All three reactions were found to proceed in two distinct steps. The first step occurred on a time scale of seconds and was associated with a minor change in absorbance and was identified as the formation of a 1:1 adduct between the two reagents, which is the osmium(VI) ester that plays a decisive role in catalytic applications. This species is formed in an equilibrium that is very much shifted toward the reactants, so the osmium(VI) complex is a short-lived intermediate of the process, which is detected kinetically, but its concentration is never high enough for structural characterization. The second reaction is accompanied by major spectral changes; it involves the formation of the final products. Our results clearly show that it is possible to detect the intermediate of the process by careful kinetic studies. It is also possible that the same strategy might be successful in other OsO4-dependent dihydroxylation processes.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere4045
JournalJournal of Physical Organic Chemistry
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1 2020



  • aqueous chemistry
  • osmium (VI) ester
  • oxidation of alkenes
  • relaxation kinetics
  • stopped-flow

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry

Cite this