Proton transfer reactions of a bridged bis-propyl bis-imidazolium salt

Massey, Richard S. and Quinn, Peter and Zhou, Shengze and Murphy, John A. and O'Donoghue, Annmarie C. (2016) Proton transfer reactions of a bridged bis-propyl bis-imidazolium salt. Journal of Physical Organic Chemistry. ISSN 0894-3230 (

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Tetraazafulvalene 1 has found broad application in reduction and other related transformations and is conveniently generated from bis-propyl bis-imidazolium salt 4 with a strong base in a non-protic solvent. The proposed mechanism for the formation of 1 involves initial deprotonation at C(2) to give a mono-carbene 9 followed by intramolecular reaction at the second azolium centre. Herein, we report the second-order rate constants for deuteroxide-catalysed exchange in aqueous solution of the C(2)-hydrogens of bis-propyl bis-imidazolium di-iodide salt 4 and related monomeric dipropyl imidazolium iodide 10 of kDO=1.37×104 and 1.79×102M-1s-1, respectively, and used these data to calculate pKa values of 21.2 and 23.1. The greater C(2)-H acidity of the doubly bridged bis-propyl bis-imidazolium salt 4 relative to 10 may be attributed to the inductive or electrostatic destabilization of the conjugate acid dicationic azolium ion 4 relative to the monocationic carbene 9, which is enhanced by bis-tethering. Formation of tetraazafulvalene 1 was not observed under the aqueous conditions employed highlighting that carbene reprotonation significantly outcompetes dimerization under these conditions.