A Study on the Photochemical Dimerization of Coumarins in the Solid State

K. Gnanaguru, N. Ramasubbu, K. Venkatesan, V. Ramamurthy

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Solid-state photochemical behavior of 28 substituted coumarins has been investigated. Of these twelve underwent photodimerization and this is remarkable in light of the inertness of coumarin itself in the solid state. X-ray crystallographic investigation of eight coumarins was undertaken with the view of understanding the role of packing in the crystal on their solid-state reactivity. Important findings include the identification of acetoxy and chloro substituents as useful "crystal engineering" groups and the results pertaining to subtler aspects of toppchemical postulates. X-ray crystal structure analyses of 7-chlorocoumarm and 7-methoxycoumarin reveal packing modes which are not commonly met. The former is arranged in a β-type packing, the center-center distance between the reactive double bonds being 4.454 Å, which lies beyond the so far accepted limit of 3.5-4.2 Å. The reactive double bonds of 7-methoxycoumarin, on the other hand, are rotated by 65° with respect to each other with the center-center distance between the double bonds being 3.83 Å. Inspite of these unfavorable arrangements photodimerization of the above two coumarins in the solid state occurs through a topochemical process with large dimer yields. A careful analysis of the X-ray crystallographic results obtained from our investigations reveals that the two double bonds in the reactive crystals may be displaced with respect to each other both along the molecular plane as well as along the double bond axis. Thus the normally accepted dictums that in the photoreactive crystals the doube bonds should be within a distance of 4.2 Å and that they be parallel are no longer operational.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2337-2346
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Organic Chemistry
Issue number13
StatePublished - Jun 1985
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Organic Chemistry


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