The Photochemistry of Amides and Phthalimides

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N-Alkyl amides undergo photodecomposition much slower than their ketone, ester, and aldehyde analogs . The Norrish Type II process in amides is also less important than in these other classes of compounds due to electronic and geometric effects. Type II products account for less than 10% of the decomposed amides in all cases and usually less than 5%. A 2% solution of amide in dioxane, when irradiated through quartz with light >200 nm, did not decompose in the Type II fashion to yield N-alkyl acetamides, alkenes, and unsubstituted amides. The preferred reaction mode was the Norrish Type I process where the O=C+N bond or the O=C+C bond was cleaved to yield either an acyl radical and amine radical or an acyl radical and alkyl radical. These photochemically unstable radicals, once produced, rapidly underwent secondary reactions to yield smaller molecules. These molecules were detected, underwent further reactions (polymerization; photoreduction), or interacted with the solvent . The dimers of dioxane and cyclohexane, created via hydrogen abstraction, were the main products of amide photodecomposition in these solvents. Small aldehydes and alkenes produced as intermediates, underwent inefficient photoreductions with solvent to afford alkyl dioxanes and cyclohexanes and the two diastereomers of ( 2-p-dioxyl ) ethanol as other major products. The alcohols were also produced by photoreduction of acetaldehyde and hexanal as well as by direct photodecomposition of dioxane . Tertiary amides reacted faster than secondary amides. The Type I reaction was accelerated by electronic (inductive) factors. The Type II reaction was also more efficient due to geometric and electronic factors. The Type I amine product, dihexylamine, was observed as an intermediate in the photodecomposition of N, N-dihexylhexanoamide . Unsymmetrical anilide imides photodecomposed in dioxane to yield a wide variety of products. The Photo-Fries decomposition mode was most favored where acyl groups migrated to positions ortho and para to the amine substituent. For example, N-acetyl-butyranilide decomposed to yield o- and p-acetoaniline, o - and p-butyraniline , o- and p-acetobutyranilide, and o- and p-butyracetanilide. Very little Type II decomposition was observed, that is, N-acetyl-butyranilide yielding N, N -diacetylaniline or o- and p-acetoacetanilide. N-Alkylphthalimides were the sole group of amides or imides reported in the literature to undergo efficient Y-hydrogen abstraction. These compounds underwent initial Y-hydrogen abstraction to yield a 1,4-biradical followed by ring closure to form an azacyclobutanol intermediate. The intermediate then underwent retrotransannular ring opening to yield various 3,4-benzo-6,7-dihydro(1H)azepine-2,5-diones. Dihydrophthalimide alkenes were minor products in acetonitrile which arose after the initial y-hydrogen abstraction via subsequent δ-hydrogen transfer. Quantum yield determination as well as mechanistic investigation was conducted . The quantum yields varied from 0.023 to 0.003. Photolysis of an optically active phthalimide with an asymmetric Y-position to yield starting material of the same activity proved that the initial hydrogen abstraction was irreversible. A Type I cleavage to yield phthalic anhydride on treatment with silica gel and heat was important when they Y-position was tertiary. A quenching study of these N-alkylphthalimides with piperylene showed acceleration of starting material disappearance but decrease in product formation. An additional reaction process was interfering with the azepinedione formation. Liquid chromatography showed formation of several highly alkylated products which could not be isolated in pure form. N-Methylphthalimide, which could not ring expand, was irradiated with various alkenes to produce analogous N-methylazepinediones. The mechanism involved a 2 + 2 cyclo-addition of the double bond to the C-N bond to yield a dipolar azacyclobutanc intermediate. The intermediate with a retrotransannular ring opening yielded the observed 3, 4- benzo-6,7-dihydro-1-methylazepine-2,5-diones. These reactions prove that the C-N bond in phthalimide is of a substantial double bond character.