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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Protonated benzofuran, anthracene, naphthalene, benzene, ethene, and ethyne: measurements and estimates of pK(a) and pK(R).

Aqueous solvolyses of acyl derivatives of hydrates (water adducts) of anthracene and benzofuran yield carbocations which undergo competitive deprotonation to form the aromatic molecules and nucleophilic reaction with water to give the aromatic hydrates. Trapping experiments with azide ions yield rate constants k(p) for the deprotonation and k(H2O) for the nucleophilic reaction based on the "azide clock". Combining these with rate constants for (a) the H(+)-catalyzed reaction of the hydrate to form the carbocation and (b) hydrogen isotope exchange of the aromatic molecule (from the literature) yields pK(R) = -6.0 and -9.4 and pK(a) = -13.5 and -16.3 for the protonated anthracene and protonated benzofuran, respectively. These pK values may be compared with pK(R) = -6.7 for naphthalene hydrate (1-hydroxy-1,2-dihydronaphthalene), extrapolated to water from measurements by Pirinccioglu and Thibblin for acetonitrile-water mixtures, and pK(a) = -20.4 for the 2-protonated naphthalene from combining k(p) with an exchange rate constant. The differences between pK(R) and pK(a) correspond to pK(H2O), the equilibrium constant for hydration of the aromatic molecule (pK(H2O) = pK(R) - pK(a)). For naphthalene and anthracene values of pK(H2O) = +13.7 and +7.5 compare with independent estimates of +14.2 and +7. 4. For benzene, pK(a) = -24.3 is derived from an exchange rate constant and an assigned value for the reverse rate constant close to the limit for solvent relaxation. Combining this pK(a) with calculated values of pK(H2O) gives pK(R) = -2.4 and -2.1 for protonated benzenes forming 1,2- and 1,4-hydrates, respectively. Coincidentally, the rate constant for protonation of benzene is similar to those for protonation of ethylene and acetylene (Lucchini, V.; Modena, G. J. Am. Chem Soc. 1990, 112, 6291). Values of pK(a) for the ethyl and vinyl cations (-24.8) may thus be derived in the same way as that for the benzenonium ion. Combining these with appropriate values of pK(H2O) then yields pK(R) = -39.8 and -29.6 for the vinyl and ethyl cations, respectively.[1]


  1. Protonated benzofuran, anthracene, naphthalene, benzene, ethene, and ethyne: measurements and estimates of pK(a) and pK(R). McCormack, A.C., McDonnell, C.M., More O'Ferrall, R.A., O'Donoghue, A.C., Rao, S.N. J. Am. Chem. Soc. (2002) [Pubmed]
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