I have had a long-standing interest in organolithium compounds, dating back to my graduate student days. Thus, I was excited to read Kass and Radom’s latest work on the computational and experimental evaluation of the acidity of lithium acetylide LiCCH.1

The gas phase experimental acidity is accomplished by preparing the conjugate base of lithium acetylide through a procedure of collision-induced dissociation with loss of CO2, as in Scheme 1. By reacting this anion with a variety of different acids, they were able to bracket the acidity and determine that ΔHacid is 391.0 ± 1.3 kcal mol-1. This is about 13 kcal mol-1 less acidic than acetylene itself. The reduction is acidity understandable in terms of the C-Li being essentially ionic, and thereby loss of the proton builds up negative charge on a carbon adjacent to a carbon that already has a great deal of negative charge.

Scheme 1

Computations support this enthalpy for deprotonation. The G3, G4 and W1 values for the enthalpy deprotonation of lithium acetylide are 389.1, 388.9, and 390.4 kcal mol-1, respectively. It should also be noted that the conjugate base of lithium acetylide posses a non-classical bridging geometry 1, which is well-known for organolithium species.2


(1) Meyer, M. M.; Chan, B.; Radom, L.; Kass, S., R., "Gas-Phase Synthesis and Reactivity of Lithium Acetylide Ion, LiCC," Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., 2010, 49, 5161-5164, DOI: 10.1002/anie.201001485

(2) Streitwieser, A.; Bachrach, S. M.; Dorigo, A.; Schleyer, P. v. R. In Lithium Chemistry: A Theoretical and Experimental Overview; Sapse, A.-M., Schleyer, P. v. R., Eds.; Wiley-Interscience: New York, 1995, p 1-45.