Background: The dihydroazulene (DHA)/vinylheptafulvene (VHF) system (with two cyano groups at C1) functions as a photo-/thermoswitch. Direct ionic bromination of DHA has previously furnished a regioselective route to a 7,8-dibromide, which by elimination was converted to a 7-bromo-substituted DHA. This compound has served as a central building block for functionalization of the DHA by palladium-catalyzed cross-coupling reactions. The current work explores another bromination protocol for achieving the isomeric 3-bromo-DHA and also explores the outcome of additional bromination of this compound as well as of the known 7-bromo-DHA.Results: Radical bromination on two different VHFs by using N-bromosuccinimide/benzoyl peroxide and light, followed by a ring-closure reaction generated the corresponding 3-bromo-DHAs, as confirmed in one case by X-ray crystallography. According to a (1)H NMR spectroscopic study, the ring closure of the brominated VHF seemed to occur readily under the reaction conditions. A subsequent bromination-elimination protocol provided a 3,7-dibromo-DHA. In contrast, treating the known 7-bromo-DHA with bromine generated a very labile species that was converted to a new 3,7-dibromoazulene, i.e., the fully unsaturated species. Azulenes were also found to form from brominated compounds when left standing for a long time in the solid state. Kinetics measurements reveal that the 3-bromo substituent enhances the rate of the thermal conversion of the VHF to DHA, which is opposite to the effect exerted by a bromo substituent in the seven-membered ring.Conclusion: Two general procedures for functionalizing the DHA core with a bromo substituent (at positions 3 and 7, respectively) are now available with the DHA as starting material.
Beilstein Journal of Organic Chemistry, 2012, Vol 8, p. 958-966