Two competitive routes in the lactim-lactam phototautomerization of a hydroxypyridine derivative cation in water: dissociative mechanism versus water-assisted proton transfer.J Phys Chem A. 2005 Nov 17; 109(45):10189-98.JP
Ground-state tautomerism and excited-state proton-transfer processes of 2-(6'-hydroxy-2'-pyridyl)benzimidazolium in H2O and D2O have been studied by means of UV-vis absorption and fluorescence spectroscopy in both steady-state and time-resolved modes. In the ground state, this compound shows a tautomeric equilibrium between the lactim cation, protonated at the benzimidazole N3, and its lactam tautomer, obtained by proton translocation from the hydroxyl group to the pyridine nitrogen. Direct excitation of the lactam tautomer leads to its own fluorescence emission, while as a result of the increase of acidity of the OH group and basicity at the pyridine N upon excitation, the lactim species undergoes a proton translocation from the hydroxyl group to the nitrogen, favoring the lactam structure in the excited state. No fluorescence emission from the initially excited lactim species was detected due to the ultrafast rate of the excited-state proton-transfer processes. The lactim-lactam phototaumerization process takes place via two competitive excited-state proton-transfer routes: a one-step water-assisted proton translocation (probably a double proton transfer) and a two-step pathway which involves first the dissociation of the lactim cation to form an emissive intermediate zwitterionic species and then the acid-catalyzed protonation at the pyridine nitrogen to give rise to the lactam tautomer.