Mechanistic Studies on Covalent Assemblies of Metal-Mediated Hemi-Aminal Ethers
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The use of reversible covalent bonding in a four-component assembly incorporating chiral alcohols was recently reported to give a method for determining the enantiomeric excess of the alcohols via CD spectroscopy. Experiments that probe the mechanism of this assembly, which consists of 2-formylpyridine (2-PA), dipicolylamine (DPA), Zn(II) and alcohols to yield zinc complexes of tren-like ligands, are presented. The studies focus upon the mechanism of conversion of a hemi-aminal (1) to a hemi-aminal ether (3), thereby incorporating the fourth component. It was found that molecular sieves along with 3 to 4 equivalents of alcohol are required to drive the conversion of 1 to 3. Attempts to isolate an intermediate in this reaction via addition of strong Lewis acids led to the discovery of a five-membered ring pyridinium salt (5), but upon exposure to Zn(II) and alcohols gave different products to the assembly. This was interpreted to support the intermediacy of an iminium species. Kinetic studies reveal that the conversion of 1 to 3 is zero-order in alcohol in large excesses of alcohol, supporting rate-determining formation of an intermediate prior to reaction with alcohol. Further, the magnitudes of the rate constants for interconversion of 1 and 3 are similar, supporting the notion that there are similar rate-determining steps (rds) for the forward and reverse reactions. Hammett plots show that the rds involves creation of a negative charge (interpreted as the loss of positive charge), supporting the notion that the decomplexation of Zn(II) from the assemblies to generate apo-forms of 1 and 3 is rate-determining. The individual mechanistic conclusions are combined to create a qualitative reaction coordinate diagram for the interconversion of 1 and 3.