Reagent Friday: TsCl (p-toluenesulfonyl chloride) and MsCl (methanesulfonyl chloride)
Last updated: January 29th, 2020 |
TsCl (p-toluenesulfonyl chloride) And MsCl (methanesulfonylchloride) As Reagents In Organic Chemistry
In a blatant plug for the Reagent Guide, each Friday I profile a different reagent that is commonly encountered in Org 1/ Org 2.
A friend of mine works in human resources at a company that runs huge warehouses, and they have a lot of staff turnover. He told me about one forklift driver whose favorite habit was to speed by groups of guys in the warehouse, give them the double finger salute, and yell, “F*** you, bitches!!!” as he sped by, laughing. My friend and his co-workers in upper management were like, “what can we do to get rid of this guy?”.
TsCl and MsCl: Two Reagents That Convert Hydroxyl Groups (OH) Into Good Leaving Groups
Alcohols: there are times you need to get rid of them too. Except there’s one problem. They’re terrible leaving groups. Remember that good leaving groups are weak bases? Hydroxide ions are strong bases, and therefore very poor leaving groups.
However there’s a way to turn the OH group into a good leaving group – if you can convert it into a weaker base.
Treatment of an alcohol with TsCl or MsCl, usually in the presence of a weak base such as pyridine, results in the sulfonate esters. (The purpose of pyridine is to mop up any HCl that is formed during the course of the reaction.)
Conversion to the sulfonate esters does one thing: the conjugate bases – toluenesulfonate and methanesulfonate are now extremely weak bases, since they’re heavily stabilized by resonance.
And there you go.
For more, see this post: Three Ways To Make OH Into A Better Leaving Group
So in the end it turned out that the crazy forklift driver insulted the wrong guy. He called one of co-workers a “dick”, and he then complained to management. (“Bitch” was OK, but “dick” was insulting, apparently). The management wanted to “terminate”, as they say, but my friend told them they didn’t have legal grounds to do so yet: instead, they gave the employee a written warning. He explained it to them this way. “Think of it like putting him on the tee, so that the next time he screws up, we send him down the fairway of life”.
P.S. You can read about the chemistry of TsCl and more than 80 other reagents in undergraduate organic chemistry in the “Organic Chemistry Reagent Guide”, available here as a downloadable PDF.
(Advanced) References and Further Reading
- ON ESTERS OF p-TOLUENESULFONIC ACID
The Journal of Organic Chemistry, 1944, 09 (3), 235-241
Early reference on tosylation by Stuart Tipson, who was at the Mellon Institute of Industrial Research (now Carnegie-Mellon University).
- The tosylation of alcohols
George W. Kabalka, Manju Varma, Rajender S. Varma, Prem C. Srivastava, and Furn F. Knapp Jr.
The Journal of Organic Chemistry, 1986, 51 (12), 2386-2388
This paper describes an improved procedure for tosylation of alcohols.Besides the p-toluenesulfonyl group, other sulfonate esters can be prepared as leaving groups from alcohols (e.g. mesylate, brosylate, triflate, trifluoroacetate, nonaflate, etc.). Two papers describing mesylate ester synthesis are described below:
- Kinetic and spectroscopic characterisation of highly reactive methanesulfonates. Leaving group effects for solvolyses and comments on geminal electronic effects influencing SN1 reactivity
William Bentley, Manfred Christl, Ralf Kemmer, Gareth Llewellyn and John E. Oakley
J. Chem. Soc., Perkin Trans. 2, 1994, 2531-2538
- Palladium-catalyzed Buchwald-Hartwig Amination and Suzuki-Miyaura Cross-coupling Reaction of Aryl Mesylates
Shun Man Wong, Pui Ying Choy, On Ying Yuen, Chau Ming So, and Fuk Yee Kwong
Synth.2015, 92, 195-212
The first step in this procedure is the mesylation of p-t-butylphenol.
- Synthesis of some novel trifluoromethanesulfonates and their reactions with alcohol
Charles D. Beard, Kurt Baum, and Vytautas Grakauskas
The Journal of Organic Chemistry, 1973, 38 (21), 3673-3677
Triflate (-SO2CF3) esters are much more reactive than tosylates or mesylates, since the triflate anion is a superb leaving group. This paper describes the synthesis of various triflate esters but gives no mention for safety considerations – these are potent alkylating agents and are highly carcinogenic.