Tuesday, November 07, 2006
TEMPO - BAIB oxidation
Have you ever had to oxidise a primary alcohol to a carboxylic acid? Well as you know there is a ridiculous number of methods available. However, a common problem with many of the more traditional methods is that they are very harsh and could potentially rip your molecule apart. Just what you want after a 21-step linear synthesis innit? Moreover, many of the traditional metal-based oxidations can be a serious pain to work up so a mild and simple method would be kinda nice. Well one method that fulfills these criteria has been around for a while. I stumbled across it back in 1999 when I had to do one of these oxidations myself. A very nice piece of work on the oxidation of nucleosides: Now you have to admit that this oxidation uses the coolest reagents ever just judged by their abbreviations. BAIB should obviously be pronounced BABE. Anyway, at first I had no idea what TEMPO and BAIB were:Both TEMPO and BAIB are commercially available. Don't you just love stuff like TEMPO. A radical you just scoop out of the flask and throw into your RBF! So how does the reaction work? We'll TEMPO does the hard work of oxidising the alcohol. However, as it is only used in a catalytic amount a stoichiometric amount of BAIB is required to regenerate TEMPO. As far as I know no one has yet figured the exact mechanism out. However, for those interested there is a good review in Synthesis that takes a close look at the mechanism and shows the most plausible pathways: Nooy et al., Synthesis, 1996, pp. 1153 - 1174. The paper is worth looking up just to check out the photos of the guys who wrote it - absolutely priceless! Anyway, to get to the point the method is very user-friendly you basically just mix a big pile of BAIB with a small quantity of TEMPO add your alcohol and some acetonitrile and water and stir it for a couple of hours. The method is compatible with a whole range of functional groups (double and triple bonds, esters, ethers, acetals, epoxides, amides, halides, and azides) as well as protection groups (TBDMS, THP, MOM, Boc, Cbz, Benzyl and acetyl etc.). I have recommended the method to a number of people and they have all used it with great success even with very sensitive compounds so I suggest you give it a go if you are in an oxidising mood.
And finally a practical note. If you like me have managed to get stuck in the middle of nowhere and hence has to wait for 9-12 months to receive your BAIB by ship from the US you may consider just making it yourself. I haven't tried this myself but the guys in the lab do it frequently using a simple prep from Synthesis: Kazmierczak et al., Synthesis, 1998, pp. 1721 - 1723. The final stuff is supposed to be bright yellow but the guys assure me that the pseudo-yellowish stuff you for unknown reasons obtain sometimes works just as well. Here's a picture of the pseudo-yellowish BAIB one of the guys made a couple of weeks ago:If you plan to hold on to it for a while it has to go in the freezer otherwise it goes off fast. Have fun, D!