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Excited-State Tautomerization of 7‑Azaindole in Nonpolar Solution: A Theoretical Study Based on Liquid-Phase Potential Surfaces of Mean Force

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journal contribution
posted on 13.08.2013 by Hua Fang, Yongho Kim
Excited state tautomerization of a 7-azaindole (7AI) complex with one methanol molecule in heptane was studied using variational transition state theory including multidimensional tunneling (VTST/MT) with the dielectric continuum model for the solvent effect. Electronic structures and energies for reactants and transition state (TS) in solution were computed at the complete active space self-consistent field (CASSCF) level with second-order multireference perturbation theory (MRPT2) to take into consideration of dynamic electron correlation. The polarizable continuum model using the integral equation formalism (IEFPCM) and the SMD model were used for the excited-state solvent effect. Excited-state surfaces of potential of the mean force in solution were generated for the first time at the MRPT2//SMD/CASSCF­(10,9)/6-31G­(d,p) level. The position of TS on the reaction coordinate substantially depended on the dynamic electron correlation. The two protons in the excited-state tautomerization were transferred in a concerted but asynchronous process. Calculated HH/DD kinetic isotope effect (KIE) and the ratio of Arrhenius pre-exponential factors, A(HH)/A(DD), agreed very well with the corresponding experimental values. The shape of the adiabatic energy surfaces in the excited-state strongly depended on the position of isotopes due to the asynchronicity of the reaction path, and the tunneling effect was essential for reproducing experimental KIEs. The pyrrolic proton moved a twice longer distance by tunneling than the hydroxyl proton in the most probable tunneling path at 292 K. This study strongly suggests that the mechanism of the excited-state double proton transfer in heptane is triggered by proton transfer from the pyrrolic nitrogen of 7AI to alcohol (protolytic pathway), rather than by proton transfer from alcohol to the pyridine nitrogen of 7AI (solvolytic pathway).