Are The Enolates Of Amides And Esters Stabilized By Electrostatics?

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Journal Of The American Chemical Society


The fact that amides and esters form less stable enolates than ketones might be seen as evidence that electrostatic stabilization is unimportant in these anions. However, ab initio molecular orbital calculations show that electrostatic stabilization does in fact lie beneath the competing resonance effect that causes the decrease in acidity. The electrostatic contribution is revealed by examining torsionally twisted amide and ester structures in which the pi resonance interactions are largely inhibited. These twisted amides and esters have greater enolate acidity than the corresponding ketones. Qualitatively similar behavior is observed with respect to protonation, such that twisted amides and esters are generally less basic than the reference ketones, in striking contrast to their behavior in the normal geometries.

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