Protonated Ground-State Singlet meta-Pyridynes React from an Excited Triplet State

Xin Ma, Erlu Feng, Hanning Jiang, Victoria M. Boulos, Jinshan Gao, John J. Nash, Hilkka I. Kenttämaa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The gaseous 2,6-didehydropyridinium cation and its derivatives transfer a proton to reagents for which the reaction for their singlet ground states is too endothermic to be observed. These reactions occur from the lowest-energy excited triplet states, which has not been observed (or reported) for other meta-benzyne analogues. Quantum chemical calculations indicate that the (excited) triplet states are stronger Brønsted acids than their (ground) singlet states, likely due to unfavorable three-center, four-electron interactions in the singlet-state conjugate bases. The cations have substantially smaller (calculated) singlet-triplet (S-T) splittings (ranging from ca. -11 to -17 kcal mol-1) than other related meta-benzyne analogues (e.g., -23.4 kcal mol-1 for the 3,5-isomer). This is rationalized by the destabilization of the singlet states (relative to the triplet states) by reduced (spatial) overlap of the nonbonding molecular orbitals due to the presence of the nitrogen atom between the radical sites (making the ring more rigid). Both the singlet and triplet states are believed to be generated upon formation of these biradicals via energetic collisions due to their small S-T splittings. It appears that once the triplet states are formed, the rate of proton transfer is faster than the rate of intersystem crossing unless the biradicals contain heavy atoms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3249-3260
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Organic Chemistry
Issue number4
StatePublished - 19 Feb 2021


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