American Chemical Society
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Proton-Transfer Reactions of Nitroalkanes: The Role of aci-Nitro Species

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journal contribution
posted on 2009-02-06, 00:00 authored by Makoto Sato, Yutaka Kitamura, Nobuyoshi Yoshimura, Hiroshi Yamataka
Proton-transfer reactions of two systems, ionization of a series of small carbon acids in water (the Pearson system) and reactions of substituted phenylnitromethanes, were examined in detail computationally. Comparison of experimental reactivity and pKa with calculated relative activation barrier and reaction energy for the Pearson system suggested that the origin of the well-know nitroalkane anomaly does not reside in the reactivity but in the equilibrium. For the reactions of substituted phenylnitromethanes, proton transfers among three species, PhCH2NO2, PhCHNO2, and PhCHNO2H, were examined, and the role of the aci-nitro species (PhCHNO2H) was evaluated on the basis of its stability and reactivity. Protonation of PhCHNO2 by H2O was suggested to occur kinetically on the oxygen site, but due to its instability PhCHNO2H does not contribute to the overall reaction energetics. The protonation of PhCHNO2 under acidic conditions occurs on the oxygen site to give PhCHNO2H both kinetically and thermodynamically. The aci-nitro species thus formed appears to give PhCH2NO2 via intramolecular H2O-mediated proton transfer, but a possibility of the route through PhCHNO2−C-protonation would not be fully eliminated.