We report an alternative pathway to the Wacker oxidation of internal olefins involving epoxidation of trans-alkenes followed by a mild and highly regioselective isomerization to give the major ketone isomers in 66-98% yield. Preliminary kinetics and isotope labeling studies suggest epoxide ring opening as the turnover limiting step in our proposed mechanism. A similar catalytic system was applied to the kinetic resolution of select trans-epoxides to give synthetically useful selectivity factors of 17-23 for benzyl-substituted substrates.
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© 2015 American Chemical Society.