Robinson Annulation

Robinson Annulation is a process used in organic chemistry that is required for ring formation. Sir Robert Robison discovered the process in 1935, and the process was consequently named after him. In the method of Robinson annulation, three new carbon-carbon bonds are made by creating a six-membered ring.  Methyl Vinyl and Ketone are used in this process, forming an aldol condensation following the formation of an αβ-unsaturated ketone using Michael addition. It is used for creating polycyclic compounds having six-membered rings, as in the case of steroids. The word 'Annulations' stands for 'building ring' and is a very complex system.

Processes Involved In Robinson Annulation 

  • Michael addition- The alpha beta-unsaturated compounds that go through Michael's addition are the Michael acceptor, product Michael adduct, and the nucleophile-Michael donor. Michael addition involves 1,4-addition reactions of αβ-unsaturated nitriles and carbon nucleophiles, which happen to be resonance-stabilized.

  • Aldol condensation- This process takes place in aldehydes with an α-Hydrogen, which reacts with a diluted base, leading to the formation of β-Hydrogen aldehydes are referred to as aldols. Crossed aldol condensation occurs when this process takes place in the form of condensation occurring between two carbonyl compounds, which are not similar to one another.

Robinson Annulation Mechanism

The Robinson annulation reaction has Michael's addition and aldol condensation as essential parts. 

  • First, in the Robinson annulation mechanism, the Michael reaction occurs after the aldol condensation occurs.

  • The next step in the Robinson annulation reaction mechanism is where the αβ unsaturated ketone undergoes Michael's addition.

  • Enolate formation takes place, and the process of Tautomerization gives way to further reactions.

  • This step is followed by cyclization. The six-membered cyclic product is formed from aldol condensation.

  • The αβ unsaturated cyclic ketones are finally formed after hydrolysis is done.

Applications Of Robinson Annulation Reaction

Spirocyclic compounds are created using the Robinson annulation reaction mechanism. Robinson annulation’s advantage is that it finds high applicability while synthesizing molecules that are complex and is readily used while making steroids, terpenoids, and alkaloids. It is a formal [4+2] reaction, and six-membered rings are always formed in this reaction followed by the condensation process. The concept of the process has also expanded to include [3+3] annulations. Generally, all ring forming cascades include intramolecular aldol reaction and the Michael addition, like in the Robinson annulation mechanism.  A large number of synthesis relies on Robinson annulation. Those which use the process to create an internal ring are especially significant. The Robinson annulation is very important in the process of synthesis of the six-membered ring. A more complex application of the process is in the Enantioselective way to platensimycin.

Robinson Annulation In Stereochemistry

Hydroxyl ketones are formed using the Robinson annulation reaction. It has also been discovered that cyclization often pursues the path of synclinal orientation. Solvent interactions account for the difference in the formation of transition states and their products. 

Reaction Conditions Required

Generally, primary conditions are needed for the Robinson annulation reaction to take place. However, different conditions have been used for conducting the reaction. Heathcock and Ellis used sulfuric acid and similar products, and the result was reported. With the help of an enamine, Michael's reaction can be conducted even in neutral conditions. The Michael adduct is created by heating Mannich base with a ketone present. Several variations of the process, like the Wichterle reaction, Hauser annulation, and asymmetric Robinson annulation, have been used. Methods like Dieckmann condensation and catalysts like proline catalysts have been often used to create the variations, as mentioned earlier.

Example Of a Synthesis With Robinson Annulation

This is mainly a significant example because pKa of the diketone is close to 11; thus, it will be selectively deprotonated over all the pKa-16 or alpha carbon atoms. This would, in turn, ensure that there is a high yield from the Michael reaction. The methyl group, on the other hand, makes sure that the deprotonation does not retake place during the step of an intramolecular aldol condensation. This example is frequently found in Robinson annulation practice problems. 

Another example is amine promoted aldol condensation, which takes place with enamine.

The key step in this process is to use a Dean-Stark trap, which sequesters water, which is formed as a product of the reaction leading the reaction towards its completion.

Did You Know?

In 1971, Zoltan Hajos and David Parrish used L-proline without using pyrrolidine, which led to the formation of a product which is optically active. This discovery did not receive adequate attention for about three decades. The result was finally published in 2000 by Babas, List, and Lerner and consequently opened the floodgates to developing organocatalysis. 

Solved Examples 

1. With the help of proper equations and writing the correct organic compounds give an example of a Robinson annulation reaction.

Answer: An example of the Robinson annulation reaction is as follows:

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. What are the two materials which are required at the starting of a Robinson annulation?

Ans: The two materials required at the starting of a Robinson annulation are an enolate and a αβ-unsaturated carbonyl compound. An enolate is a form of ion which is created when the molecule of an aldehyde or ketone loses alpha hydrogen as a hydrogen ion. The αβ-unsaturated carbonyl compound is also called an enone. It is a form of organic compound which has an alkene which is conjugated to a ketone. The simplest form of enone is methyl vinyl ketone. These two materials are mandatory in Robinson’s annulation. The Robinson annulation reaction creates a six-membered ring along with three C-C bonds.

2. What are the two parts of Robinson Annulation?

Ans: The Robinson annulation incorporates two main processes. There is Michael's reaction, and the intramolecular aldol condensation. The result is a six-membered ring containing an alpha, beta-unsaturated ketone. The Michael addition refers to the conjugate addition of enamine, enolate, or, other carbon nucleophiles to the beta carbon of enal, enone or other alpha beta-unsaturated compounds. Intramolecular aldol condensation occurs when a molecule has 2 aldehyde/ketone groups. The alpha carbon of one group attacks the other, causing the molecule to attack itself, and hence forms a ring structure. These two processes make up the Robinson annulation and form a six-membered ring.