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12.20: Aldehydes and Ketones with Amines: Imine Formation Mechanism

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Organic Chemistry

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Aldehydes and Ketones with Amines: Imine Formation Mechanism

12.20: Aldehydes and Ketones with Amines: Imine Formation Mechanism

Imine formation involves the addition of carbonyl compounds to a primary amine. It begins with the generation of carbinolamine through a series of steps involving an initial nucleophilic attack and then several proton transfer reactions. The second part includes the elimination of water, as a leaving group, to give the imine.

Imines are formed under mildly acidic conditions. A pH of 4.5 is ideal for the reaction.

If the pH is low or the solution is too acidic, the reaction slows down in the first step—this is when the lone pair on the nitrogen atom of the amine attacks the carbonyl carbon of the substrate. A low pH indicates a high concentration of the protonated form of amine. The protonated amine cannot function as a nucleophile, slowing down this step’s rate.

If the pH is high or the solution is too basic, the fourth step of the reaction mechanism is affected. This is when the hydroxyl group of the carbinolamine is protonated to generate the leaving group, water. Highly basic conditions inhibit the process of water elimination by making the protonated amine, the proton donor in this step, less available for the reaction.



Aldehydes Ketones Amines Imine Formation Mechanism Carbinolamine Nucleophilic Attack Proton Transfer Reactions Water Elimination PH Acidic Conditions Basic Conditions Reaction Mechanism

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