The reaction of bromodiphenylmethane and 3-chloropyridine, which proceeds concurrently through both unimolecular and bimolecular mechanisms, was examined in mixtures of acetonitrile and an ionic liquid. As predicted, the bimolecular rate constant (k2) gradually increased as the amount of ionic liquid in the reaction mixture increased, as a result of a minor enthalpic cost offset by a more significant entropic benefit. Addition of an ionic liquid had a substantial effect on the unimolecular rate constant (k1) of the reaction, with at least a 5-fold rate enhancement relative to acetonitrile, which was found to be due to a significant decrease in the enthalpy of activation, partially offset by the associated decrease in the entropy of activation. This is in contrast to the effects seen previously for aliphatic carbocation formation, where the entropic cost dominated reaction outcome. This change is attributed to a lessened ionic liquid–transition state interaction, as the incipient charges in the transition state were delocalized across the neighbouring π systems. By varying the mole fraction of ionic liquid in the reaction mixture the ratio between k1 and k2 could be altered, highlighting the potential to use ionic liquids to control which pathway a reaction proceeds through.
Bibliographical noteCopyright the Publisher 2016. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.
Keaveney, S. T., White, B. P., Haines, R. S., & Harper, J. B. (2016). The effects of an ionic liquid on unimolecular substitution processes: the importance of the extent of transition state solvation. Organic and Biomolecular Chemistry, 14(8), 2572-2580. https://doi.org/10.1039/c5ob02598b