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Unstable silabenzenes

Silabenzene is a heteroaromatic compound containing a silicon atom instead of the carbon atom in benzene, so silabenzene has been one of the most interesting targets of theoretical and synthetic-organic chemists considering the question of whether heavy benzenes exhibit aromaticity. The chemical structure of silabenzene is shown to the right.

Although several heteroaromatic compounds bearing nitrogen, oxygen, and sulfur atoms have been known since the early stages of organic chemistry, silabenzene had been considered to be a transient, un-isolable compound and was detected only in low-temperature matrices for a long time. In recent years, however, a kinetically stabilized silabenzene and other heavy aromatic compounds with silicon or germanium atoms have been reported.


Several attempts to synthesize stable silabenzenes have been reported from the late 1970s using well-known bulky substituents such as a tert-butyl, a (1,1-dimethylethyl) group or a TMS (trimethylsilyl) group, but such silabenzenes readily react with themselves to give the corresponding dimer even at low temperature (below -100°C) due to the high reactivity of silicon-carbon π bonds. Following the synthesis of the naphthalene pendant 2-silanaphthalene, the first sila-aromatic compound, by Norihiro Tokitoh and Renji Okazaki in 1997, the same group reported thermally stable silabenzene in 2000 taking advantage of a new steric protective group.

Stable 2-silanaphthalene and silabenzene

In 2004, 1,2-disilabenzene was synthesized via formal [2+2+2] cyclotrimerization of a disilyne (Si-Si triple bonded species) and phenylacetylene.

Properties and reactions

Isolated silabenzene reacts with various reagents at 1,2- or 1,4-positions to give diene-type products, so the aromaticity of the silabenzene is destroyed. It is different from benzene, which reacts with electrophiless to give not dienes but substituted benzenes, so benzene sustains its aromaticity. Silicon is a semi-metal element, so the Si-C π bond in the silabenzene is highly polarized and easily broken. The silabenzene is also light-sensitive; UV irradiation gives the valence isomer, a silabenzvalene. The theoretical calculations and the NMR chemical shifts of silabenzenes, though, show that silabenzene is an aromatic compound in spite of the different reactivity from benzene and other classical aromatic compounds.

See also

External links