Theses Doctoral

Design of Alcohol Substitution and Higher-Order Superbases with Cyclopropenium Ions

Nacsa, Eric David

This thesis employs cyclopropenium ions as central design elements in a novel catalytic nucleophilic substitution of alcohols and in the preparation and study of a number of extremely strong organic bases.
The first chapter describes the use of diphenylcyclopropenone as a catalyst for the substitution of a range of alcohols with sulfonic acids that proceeds with inversion of stereochemistry. The other reagents needed are methanesulfonic anhydride and a simple amine base. The process relies on the concept of cyclopropenium activation developed by the Lambert group. The catalyst is the only material not removed from the product by aqueous workup, and a protocol for its conversion into a water-soluble derivative is outlined. A stoichiometric procedure for more sterically demanding substrates is also detailed.
The second chapter outlines the preparation of six new classes of higher-order superbases by novel and robust methods. Five members incorporate the cyclopropenimine function, a superbase recently introduced by the Lambert group. Systematic structure-basicity relationships reveal fundamental electronic properties of guanidines, phosphazenes, and cyclopropenimines. Molecular structures show a number of organizational elements that could assist in the design of next-generation higher-order superbases. Predictive effects of structure on both stability and selectivity between Brønsted basic and nucleophilic behavior are explained. Finally, the first direct neutral Brønsted base catalysis of the relatively non-acidic α-aryl ester pronucleophile class is described, alluding to the increased number of useful and widely available types of starting materials that can be engaged directly by this reaction mode.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Thesis Advisors
Lambert, Tristan H.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
September 2, 2015