Stable spirocyclic Meisenheimer complexes

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Meisenheimer complexes are important intermediates in Nucleophilic Aromatic Substitution Reactions (SNAr). They are formed by the addition of electron rich species to polynitro aromatic compounds or aromatic compounds with strong electron withdrawing groups. It is possible to distinguish two types of Meisenheimer or σ-complexes, the σH-complex or σX-complex (also named ipso), depending on the aromatic ring position attacked by the nucleophile (a non-substituted or substituted one, respectively). Special examples of σX- or ipso-complexes are formed through intermediate spiro adducts, via intramolecular SNAr. Some of these spirocyclic Meisenheimer complexes, a type of σX- complex, are exceptionally stable in solution and/or as solids. They can be isolated and characterized using X-ray, and various spectroscopic techniques such as NMR, UV-Vis, IR, and fluorescence. A few of these stable spirocyclic Meisenheimer complexes are zwitterionic and exhibit interesting photophysical and redox properties. We will review recent advances, synthesis and potential applications of these stable spirocyclic Meisenheimer complexes. © 2008 by the authors; licensee Molecular Diversity Preservation International.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1282-1302
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2008


  • Fluorescent compounds
  • Meisenheimer- Complexes
  • Spirocyclic-
  • Zwitterionic-


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