In previous work in our lab, the redox-dependent binding behavior of a phenylenediamine urea, UHH, was investigated in the presence of different guests in CH2
. The urea functionality contains two good H-donors in the two urea NH bonds (a DD motif) that are capable of H-bonding with two appropriately spaced H-acceptors (AA motif). Examples are the cyclic diamide PZD (see Figure) and 1,8-naphthyridine, naph. 1
H NMR studies indicated a modest Kbinding
of 100 M-1
with PZD and 30 M-1
with naph in CH2
. The expectation was that oxidation of the phenylenediamine couple in UHH to the radical cation would increase the acidity of one of the NH’s leading to stronger H-bonding with the guests and a negative shift in the observed redox potential upon addition of these guests. A small negative shift was observed with PZD, but further research indicated that the actual overall reaction occurring upon oxidation of UHH was not the simple 1 electron oxidation to the radical cation expected, but rather 2 electron oxidation of one UHH accompanied by proton transfer to a reduced UHH to give UH+
as shown in the Figure. Addition of PZD does not change this overall reaction. An alternative explanation of the potential shift is that PZD is actually H-bonding to the protonated HUHH+
, which would also be a stronger H-donor. Interestingly, similar magnitude shifts are observed upon oxidation of the ferrocene-containing urea, FcUHH. Since Fc is only capable of being oxidized by 1 electron, oxidation of the Fc also makes a +1 charge, which appears to have a similar effect on the H-bonding ability of the urea as does protonation.
In contrast to the PZD, addition of naph causes the current for the oxidation of UHH to increase with little change in peak potential. This can be explained by proton transfer from the UHH radical cation to the naphthyridine. The resulting neutral radical will be immediately oxidized by a second electron leading to the increase in current. The proton transfer will change the H-bonding motif from AA-DD to AD-DA, which is inherently weaker because of unfavorable secondary interactions. In addition, because of the two electron oxidation, both binding partners in the resulting complex, (naphH+)(UH+), will be positively charged. Therefore it is not surprising that the H-bonding does not strengthen upon oxidation. It will be of interest to compare this behavior to that of FcUHH and naph. Cyclic voltammetry experiments will be run with FcUHH and naphthyridine to see if eliminating the possibility of the second electron transfer prevents proton transfer and results in the expected stronger H-bonding to the oxidized form.