Carboximidates (or less specifically imidates) are organic compounds which can be thought of as esters formed between a carboximidic acid (R-C(=NR')OH) and an alcohol. They have the general formula R-C(=NR')OR".
Carboximidates are also known as imino ethers, since they can be thought of as imines (>C=N-) with an oxygen atom connected to the carbon atom.
Imidates produced in this manner are formed as their hydrochloride salts, which are sometimes referred to as Pinner salts. Carboximidates are also formed as intermediates in the Mumm rearrangement and the Overman rearrangement.
Amidate anions, which are the equivalent resonance structure of imidate anions, can be thought of as the corresponding amide enolates, with the formula R-N=C(O-)R. Imidate/amidate anions find use as ligands.
Carboximidates are good electrophiles and undergo a range of addition reactions; with aliphatic imidates generally reacting faster than aromatic imidates. They can be hydrolysed to give esters and by an analogous process react with amines (including ammonia) to form amidines. Aliphatic imidates react with an excess of alcohol under acid catalysis to form orthoesters RC(OR)3, aromatic imidates can also be converted but far less readily.
As a protecting group
Carboximidates can act as protecting group for alcohols. For example the base catalysed reaction of benzyl alcohol upon trichloroacetonitrile yields a trichloroacetimidate. This species has orthogonal stability to acetate and TBS protections and may be cleaved by acid hydrolysis.
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