Absolute Reactivity of the 4-Methoxycumyl Cation in Non-Acid Zeolites

The reactivity of the 4-methoxycumyl cation in a series of alkali metal cation-exchanged zeolites (LiY, NaY, KY, RbY CsY, NaX, NaMor, and Naβ) in the absence and presence of coadsorbed alcohols and water is examined using nanosecond laser flash photolysis. In dry zeolites, the absolute reactivity of the carbocation is found to be strongly dependent on the nature of the alkali counterion, the Si/Al ratio, and the framework morphology, with the lifetime of the carbocation in Naβ being almost 10000-fold longer than in CsY. The results suggest a mechanism for carbocation decay involving direct participation of the zeolite framework as a nucleophile, leading to the generation of a framework-bound alkoxy species. Intrazeolite addition reactions of alcohols and water to the 4-methoxycumyl cation can be described in terms of both dynamic and static quenching involving molecular diffusion through the heterogeneous topology and rapid coupling between the alcohol and the carbocation encapsulated within the same cavity. The dynamics of the quenching reactions are different from similar reactions in homogeneous solution due to both the passive and active influences of the zeolite environment. In a passive sense, the zeolite decreases the reactivity of the nucleophilic quencher by hindering molecular diffusion. However, the zeolite actively promotes the efficiency of intracavity coupling by enhancing the deprotonation of the oxonium ion intermediate, allowing the reaction to go to completion.