Nitrobenzene was regioselectively oxidized to 2-nitrophenol with oxygen in a reaction catalyzed by the H5PV2Mo10O40 polyoxometalate. The reaction was first order in oxygen and catalyst. 15N NMR showed the interaction between nitrobenzene and the polyoxometalate. Use of labeled 18O2, H2 18O, a competitive kinetic isotope experiment, and use of phenyl-tert-butylnitrone as a spin-trap and identification by EPR provided evidence for formation of a radical intermediate involving a selective intramolecular interaction at the ortho position due to formation of a H5PV2Mo10O40-nitrobenzene complex.
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