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Department of Chemistry

Publication details for Dr Dominikus Heift

Heift, D., Benkő, Z. & Grützmacher, H. (2014). Redox-triggered reversible interconversion of a monocyclic and a bicyclic phosphorus heterocycle. Angewandte Chemie International Edition 53(26): 6757-6761.

Author(s) from Durham


Molecules which change their structures significantly and reversibly upon an oxidation or reduction process have potential as future components of smart materials. A prerequisite for such an application is that the molecules should undergo the redox-coupled transformation within a reasonable electrochemical window and lock into stable redox states. Sodium phosphaethynolate reacts with two equivalents of dicyclohexylcarbodiimide (DCC) to yield an anionic, imino-functionalized 1,3,5-diazaphosphinane [3 a]−. The oxidation of this anion with elemental iodine causes an intramolecular rearrangement reaction to give a bicyclic 1,3,2-diazaphospholenium cation [6]+. This umpolung of electronic properties from non-aromatic to highly aromatic is reversible, and the cation [6]+ is reduced with elemental magnesium to reform the 1,3,5-diazaphosphinanide anion [3 a]−. Theoretical calculations suggest that phosphinidene species are involved in the rearrangement processes.