Organosodium chemistry is the chemistry of organometallic compounds containing a carbon to sodium chemical bond. The application of organosodium compounds in chemistry is limited in part due to competition from organolithium compounds, which are commercially available and exhibit more convenient reactivity.
The principal organosodium compound of commercial importance is sodium cyclopentadienide. Sodium tetraphenylborate can also be classified as an organosodium compound since in the solid state sodium is bound to the aryl groups.
Organometal bonds in group 1 are characterised by high polarity with corresponding high nucleophilicity on carbon. This polarity results from the disparate electronegativity of carbon (2.55) and that of lithium 0.98, sodium 0.93 potassium 0.82 rubidium 0.82 caesium 0.79). The carbanionic nature of organosodium compounds can be minimized by resonance stabilization, for example, Ph3CNa. One consequence of the highly polarized Na-C bond is that simple organosodium compounds often exist as polymers that are poorly soluble in solvents.
- (C2H5)2Hg + 2 Na → 2 C2H5Na + Hg
The high solubility of lithium alkoxides in hexane is the basis of a useful synthetic route:
- LiCH2SiMe3 + NaO–t–Bu → LiOt–Bu + NaCH2SiMe3
- 2 Na + 2 C5H6 → 2 NaC5H5 + H2
- CH3SOCH3 + NaH → CH3SOCH−
2Na+ + H2
Trityl sodium can be prepared by metal-halogen exchange. This method is used in preparing trityl sodium:
- Ph3CCl + 2 Na → Ph3CNa + NaCl
Sodium also reacts with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons via one-electron reduction. With solutions of naphthalene, it forms the deeply coloured radical sodium naphthalenide, which is used as a soluble reducing agent:
- C10H8 + Na → Na+[C10H8]−•
The related anthracene as well as potassium derivatives are well known.
Simple organosodium compounds such as the alkyl and aryl derivatives are generally insoluble polymers. Methyl sodium adopts a polymeric structure consisting of interconnected [NaCH3]4 clusters. When the organic substituents are bulky and especially in the presence of chelating ligands like TMEDA, the derivatives are more soluble. For example, [NaCH2SiMe3]TMEDA is soluble in hexane. Crystals have been shown to consist of chains of alternating Na(TMEDA)+ and CH2SiMe−
3 groups with Na–C distances ranging from 2.523(9) to 2.643(9) Å.
The higher alkali metals are known to metalate even some unactivated hydrocarbons and are known to self-metalate:
- 2 NaC2H5 → C2H4Na2 + C2H6
- C2H5Na + CO2 → C2H5CO2Na
Grignard reagents undergo a similar reaction.
Some organosodium compounds degrade by beta-elimination:
- NaC2H5 → NaH + C2H4
Although organosodium chemistry has been described to be of "little industrial importance", it once was central to the production of tetraethyllead. A similar Wurtz coupling-like reaction is the basis of the industrial route to triphenylphosphine:
- 3 PhCl + PCl3 + 6 Na → PPh3 + 6 NaCl
The polymerization of butadiene and styrene is catalyzed by sodium metal.
Organic derivatives of the heavier alkali metalsEdit
Organopotassium, organorubidium, and organocaesium are less commonly encountered than organosodium compounds and of limited utility. These compounds can be prepared by treatment of alkyl lithium compounds with the potassium, rubidium, and caesium alkoxides. Alternatively they arise from the organomercury compound, although this method is dated. The solid methyl derivatives adopt polymeric structures. Reminiscent of the nickel arsenide structure, MCH3 (M = K, Rb, Cs) has six alkali metal centers bound to each methyl group. The methyl groups are pyramidal, as expected.
A notable reagent that is based on a heavier alkali metal alkyl is Schlosser's base, a mixture of n-butyllithium and potassium tert-butoxide. This reagent reacts with toluene to form the red-orange compound benzyl potassium (KCH2C6CH5).
Evidence for the formation of heavy alkai metal-organic intermediates is provided by the equilibration of cis-2-butene and trans-2-butene catalysed by alkali metals. The isomerization is fast with lithium and sodium, but slow with the higher alkali metals. The higher alkali metals also favor the sterically congested conformation. Several crystal structures of organopotassium compounds have been reported, establishing that they, like the sodium compounds, are polymeric.
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