Master Organic Chemistry Reaction Guide

Oxidative cleavage of 1,2-diols to give aldehydes/ketones

Description: Treatment of vicinal diols (1,2-diols) with an oxidant such as NaIO4, HIO4, or Pb(OAc)4 cleaves C–C bonds and forms carbonyl compounds.
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9 thoughts on “Oxidative cleavage of 1,2-diols to give aldehydes/ketones

  1. My question is regarding Lead(IV) acetate. Does the initial compound have to have both a secondary and tertiary alcohol in order to have the reaction or can the reaction occur in the presence of just a tertiary or a secondary alcohol? In other words, could the reaction occur if the initial compound was a simple alkane with a secondary alcohol attached? Thank you! Your website and resources are fantastic and very helpful :D

    1. Hi Crystal – you absolutely need two adjacent alcohols. It won’t work with a single isolated alcohol. Hope this helps – James

    1. Yes, it’s called a “geminal diol”, or sometimes, a “hydrate”. It will not undergo oxidative cleavage however

  2. I have was just wondering if compounds, other than lead (IV) acetate, could be used in this oxidative cleavage? Such as Tin (IV) acetate or other acetate salts like ferric acetate or cupric acetate?

    1. Sodium periodate will do it, as will periodic acid. Ruthenium tetraoxide will do this too. Tin acetate is not an oxidant; copper acetate won’t do it; Iron acetate will not lead to this oxidation in the absence of other oxidants. One could maybe add hydrogen peroxide to the Fe(III), but then all hell would break loose.

    1. Tertiary alcohols become ketones; secondary alcohols become aldehydes; primary alcohols break off and become formaldehyde (which likely will be oxidized to CO2 under the reaction conditions)

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