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Non-TST behavior has recently attracted a great deal of attention. If such behavior is general, then the standard way in which synthetic chemists rationalize and predict reactivity and selectivity would be at least partially invalid. The work in this article was inspired by recent results which highlighted a departure from the predictions of TST for rationalization of the regiochemical outcome of the hydroboration reaction mechanism, suggesting that the isomeric product ratios arise because of nonstatistical dynamical effects (J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2009, 131, 3130-3131). We suggest, based on new calculations using a weak collision RRKM-Master Equation (ME) model, an alternative interpretation of the experimental results which preserves a statistical reaction model. While it is a common assumption that all intermediates and transition states along the reaction path are in thermal equilibrium with solvent, our ME results show that hot intermediates may react while they are undergoing stepwise relaxation through weak collisions, even in solution. To our knowledge, this work represents the first application of master equation methodology to a solution phase thermal reaction in organic chemistry that cannot be otherwise explained using conventional TST. Explicit modeling of solvent and solute dynamics is often prohibitively expensive; however, the master equation offers a computationally tractable model with considerable predictive power that may be utilized to investigate whether stepwise collisional relaxation is prevalent in other polyatomic systems.
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