Isomers of Alkali Metal (Methylbenzyl)allylamides: A Theoretical Perspective

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Recent studies of alkali metal N-(α-methylbenzyl)allylamides containing lithium, sodium, and potassium have shown unique rearrangements in NMR experiments. It was found that lithium isomers favored the formation of aza-allyl and aza-enolate complexes that could exist in a solution for a substantial amount of time. As the radius of the metal ion increases going from lithium to potassium, so does the preference for the formation of the imine structure. For sodium, the aza-allyl complex could still be isolated, whereas the imine structure was only found to be stable on the scale of several hours for potassium. In this work, ab initio calculations were used to shed light on this phenomenon. Decomposition of intermolecular interaction energies of the aza-allyl, aza-enolate, and imine complexes showed that for lithium, the formation of aza-allyl and aza-enolate complexes was driven by electrostatic interactions. For potassium, the dispersion component of the metal interaction with the ligand proved to be more important for the stability of the imine structure. The presence of the imine formation in potassium and partially in sodium was found to be due to the reduced electrostatic nature of these larger metals. The assignment of the experimental NMR spectra was further confirmed with the natural bond order (NBO) analysis as well as the partial charge calculations. Analysis of orbital energies, specifically those of the highest occupied molecular orbitals (HOMOs), as well as the deformation energies of each of the ligands, were also considered. Through these procedures, an understanding of the tendency for each metal to have a unique isomerization pathway was gained.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9448-9457
Number of pages10
JournalACS Omega
Issue number16
Publication statusPublished - 28 Apr 2020

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