The Knoevenagel condensation catalysed by ionic liquids: a mass spectrometric insight into the reaction mechanism†
The creation of carbon–carbon bonds is still a highly required topic in organic chemistry for the capacity to give a wide variety of new products of industrial value. Accordingly, the Knoevenagel condensation between activated methylene compounds and aldehydes is one of the most known carbon coupling reactions. In this work, the catalytic activity of imidazolium-based ionic liquids (1-butyl-3-methylimidazolium acetate, 1-butyl-3-methylimidazolium chloride, 1-methyl-3-carboxymethylimidazolium chloride) was studied under solvent-free conditions and compared with that of sodium salts (sodium chloride, sodium acetate). Mass spectrometric techniques were used to monitor the formation of the reaction products and to detect the key intermediates of the process. Based on the catalyst employed different reaction mechanisms were highlighted, thus laying the foundation for the design of more specific and efficient catalysts.