The Intramolecular photoredox behaviour of substituted benzophenones and related compounds




Mitchell, Devin Paul

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The discovery and mechanistic investigation of a new class of photochemical reactions of benzophenones and related compounds is documented in this Thesis. Their photobehaviour in aqueous solvent media varied dramatically from their well-known behaviour in organic solvents and suggests unique and unprecedented mechanistic pathways. The aqueous photoredox chemistry of various substituted benzophenones was initially explored. Particular attention was paid to 3-(hydroxymethyl)benzophenone (47), which upon photolysis in acidic aqueous media undergoes an intramolecular photoredox reaction to produce 3-formylbenzhydrol (61). Extensive investigation into the mechanistic behaviour of 3-(hydroxymethyl)benzophenone (47) produced evidence of a unique solvent-mediated, acid catalysed photoreaction. A mechanism has been proposed for the intramolecular photoredox reaction that proceeds via the protonated triplet state. This protonated triplet state subsequently promotes the deprotonation of the benzylic carbon before rearranging to form the redox product. The modification of the benzylic carbon with an alkyl group or with a phenyl group resulted in only slight changes in the photobehaviour. In both cases intramolecular photoredox reactions were observed although significantly more oligomeric side products were observed in some cases. To more fully elucidate the photobehaviour and to test the generality of the photoredox reaction, a variety of structurally related hydroxyalkyl aromatic carbonyls were synthesized and studied. Alternative chromophores were explored using xanthone and fluorenone derivatives. Both types of derivative compounds underwent an intramolecular photoredox reaction, supporting the assertion that the intramolecular photoredox reaction could be considered a general feature of aromatic carbonyls under aqueous conditions. However, significant differences in photoreactivity were also observed. It was found that 2-(hydroxymethyl)xanthone (53) exhibited sufficient photoactivity that the intramolecular photoredox reaction was observable even under neutral conditions whereas 2-(hydroxymethyl)fluorenone (54) was nearly photoinert. The last topic focuses on the extension of the electronic transmission from the carbonyl functional group to the benzylic alcohol by insertion of an additional phenyl group. The addition of the phenyl group also provided a bichromophoric molecule, rather than the monochromophoric substrates studied to this point. The substituent’s position played an important role in the photobehaviour, in that both of the meta- and ortho- substituted compounds underwent intramolecular photoredox reaction, while the para- substituted compound primarily exhibited photobehaviour indicative of hydrogen abstraction.



photochemistry, photoredox, benzophenone, acid-catalysed, water-mediated, xanthone, fluorenone, intramolecular