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Understanding the electrophilic aromatic substitution of indole.

Sunday, March 3rd, 2013
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The electrophilic substitution of indoles is a staple of any course on organic chemistry. Indoles also hold a soft-spot for me, since I synthesized not a few as part of my Ph.D. studies.[1],[2] The preference for substitution in the 3-position is normally explained using the arrows shown below (position 3=green,2=blue,1=red). Here I explore how these arrows might be interpreted in terms of various quantum mechanical properties.

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References

  1. B.C. Challis, and H.S. Rzepa, "The mechanism of diazo-coupling to indoles and the effect of steric hindrance on the rate-limiting step", Journal of the Chemical Society, Perkin Transactions 2, pp. 1209, 1975. http://dx.doi.org/10.1039/P29750001209
  2. B.C. Challis, and H.S. Rzepa, "Heteroaromatic hydrogen exchange reactions. Part 9. Acid catalysed decarboxylation of indole-3-carboxylic acids", Journal of the Chemical Society, Perkin Transactions 2, pp. 281, 1977. http://dx.doi.org/10.1039/P29770000281