Cyclocondensation reactions of an electron deactivated 2-aminophenyl tethered imidazole with mono/1,2-biselectrophiles: synthesis and DFT studies on the rationalisation of imidazo[1,2-a]quinoxaline versus benzo[f]imidazo[1,5-a][1,3,5]triazepine selectivity switches
Microwave-promoted ring-closure reactions of 5-amino-1-(2-aminophenyl)-1H-imidazole-4-carbonitrile (7) with various mono/1,2-biselectrophiles are presented. The reaction of 7 with aldehydes, ketones and isocyanates produced the corresponding Pictet–Spengler (PS) products i.e. the imidazo[1,2-a]quinoxaline ring system via 6-endo-trig cyclisation. On the other hand, the reaction of 7 with CH(OEt)3, and CDI resulted in the formation of benzo[f]imidazo[1,5-a][1,3,5]triazepine scaffolds via a 7-exo-trig cyclisation process. The mechanistic aspects of these ring cyclisation processes have been analysed and studied to rationalise 6- versus 7-membered ring formation using density functional theory (DFT). DFT calculations revealed the involvement of N-Heterocyclic Carbene (NHC) in the PS reaction mechanism.