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The Reactive State in the Photorearrangement of o-Nitrobenzaldehyde

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The primary step of the o-nitrobenzaldehyde-o-nitrosobenzoic acid photorearrangement in solution has been studied by flash absorption with 35 ps 355 nm light pulses. Flash photolysis of o-nitrobenzaldehyde in acetonitrile or THF solutions produces a transient absorption with a maximum at ca. 440 nm. Formation of the transient was < 35 ps, the laser pulse width, and within experimental error, no further buildup was observed. The transient which decayed at nanosecond times is attributed to a remarkably reactive ketene intermediate formed by H abstraction of the aldehydic hydrogen by the excited state of the nitro group. Decay of the ketene was more rapid in water-acetonitrile, methanol-acetonitrile, tert-butyl alcohol and in THF than in acetonitrile solution. It is suggested that the intramolecular reaction of the ketene intermediate is enhanced in THF relative to acetonitrile because of the ability of THF to facilitate proton transfer associated with the reaction. The addition of the triplet quencher cis-piperylene to a solution of o-nitrobenzaldehyde in THF did not accelerate decay of the transient nor reduce its yield. The n,π* triplet excited state band observed in the 625-650 nm region for a number of the nitroaromatic compounds was not observed in the case of o-nitrobenzaldehyde. The results provide evidence that in the direct irradiation on o-nitrobenzaldehyde in THF or acetonitrile solutions, the intramolecular reaction occurs from the singlet rather than the triplet excited state.

Affiliations: 1: Département de Chimie Université du Québec à Montréal C.P. 8888, Succ. A, Montréal, Québec, Canada H3C 3P8; 2: Canadian Centre for Picosecond Spectroscopy Concordia University Montréal, Québec, Canada H3G 1M8


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