Chemistry (Weinheim an der Bergstrasse, Germany)

Two-dimensional infrared spectroscopy reveals the structure of an Evans auxiliary derivative and its SnCl4 Lewis acid complex.

PMID 23032869


Determining the structure of reactive intermediates is the key to understanding reaction mechanisms. To access these structures, a method combining structural sensitivity and high time resolution is required. Here ultrafast polarization-dependent two-dimensional infrared (P2D-IR) spectroscopy is shown to be an excellent complement to commonly used methods such as one-dimensional IR and multidimensional NMR spectroscopy for investigating intermediates. P2D-IR spectroscopy allows structure determination by measuring the angles between vibrational transition dipole moments. The high time resolution makes P2D-IR spectroscopy an attractive method for structure determination in the presence of fast exchange and for short-lived intermediates. The ubiquity of vibrations in molecules ensures broad applicability of the method, particularly in cases in which NMR spectroscopy is challenging due to a low density of active nuclei. Here we illustrate the strengths of P2D-IR by determining the conformation of a Diels-Alder dienophile that carries the Evans auxiliary and its conformational change induced by the complexation with the Lewis acid SnCl(4), which is a catalyst for stereoselective Diels-Alder reactions. We show that P2D-IR in combination with DFT computations can discriminate between the various conformers of the free dienophile N-crotonyloxazolidinone that have been debated before, proving antiperiplanar orientation of the carbonyl groups and s-cis conformation of the crotonyl moiety. P2D-IR unequivocally identifies the coordination and conformation in the catalyst-substrate complex with SnCl(4), even in the presence of exchange that is fast on the NMR time scale. It resolves a chelate with the carbonyl orientation flipped to synperiplanar and s-cis crotonyl configuration as the main species. This work sets the stage for future studies of other catalyst-substrate complexes and intermediates using a combination of P2D-IR spectroscopy and DFT computations.