Evidence for diffusing atomic oxygen uncovered by separating reactants with a semi-permeable nanocapsule barrier†
Ground-state atomic oxygen [O(3P)] is an oxidant whose formation in solution was proposed but never proven. Polymer nanocapsules were used to physically separate dibenzothiophene S-oxide (DBTO), a source of O(3P), from an O(3P)-accepting molecule. Irradiation of polymer nanocapsules loaded with DBTO resulted in oxidation of the O(3P)-acceptor placed outside nanocapsules. The results rule out a direct oxygen atom transfer mechanism and are consistent with freely diffusing O(3P) as the oxidant.