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Iodomethane, commonly called methyl iodide and commonly abbreviated "MeI", is the chemical compound with the formula CH3I. This dense volatile liquid is related to methane by replacement of one hydrogen atom by an atom of iodine and its dipole moment is 1.59 D. Refractive index is 1.5304 (20 °C, D), 1.5293 (21 °C, D). It is miscible with common organic solvents. It is colourless, although upon exposure to light, samples develop a purplish tinge caused by the presence of I2. Storage over copper metal absorbs the iodine. Methyl iodide is widely used in organic synthesis to deliver a methyl group, via the transformation called methylation. It is naturally emitted by rice plantations in small amounts.
Additional recommended knowledge
Methyl iodide is an excellent substrate for SN2 substitution reactions. It is sterically open for attack by nucleophiles, and iodide is a good leaving group. For example, it can be used for the methylation of phenols or carboxylic acids:
Iodide is a "soft" anion which means that methylation with MeI tends to occur at the "softer" end of an ambidentate nucleophile. For example, reaction with thiocyanate ion favours attack at S rather than "hard" N, leading mainly to methyl thiocyanate (CH3SCN) rather than CH3NCS. This behavior is relevant to the methylation of stabilized enolates such as those derived from 1,3-dicarbonyl compounds. Methylation of these and related enolates can occur on the harder oxygen atom or the (usually desired) carbon atom. With methyl iodide, C-alkylation nearly always predominates.
MeI is also an important precursor to methylmagnesium iodide or "MeMgI", which is a common reagent. Because MeMgI forms readily, it is often prepared in instructional laboratories as an illustration of Grignard reagents. The use of MeMgI has been somewhat superseded by the commercially available methyl lithium.
In the Monsanto process, MeI forms in situ from the reaction of methanol and hydrogen iodide. The CH3I then reacts with carbon monoxide in the presence of a rhodium complex to form acetyl iodide, the precursor to acetic acid after hydrolysis. Most acetic acid is prepared by this method.
The iodinating reagent is phosphorus triiodide that is formed in situ. Alternatively, it is prepared from the reaction of dimethyl sulfate with potassium iodide in the presence of calcium carbonate:
Methyl iodide can be formed during nuclear accidents by the reaction of organic matter with the "fission iodine."
Choice of iodomethane as a methylating agent
Iodomethane is an excellent reagent for methylation, but there are some disadvantages to its use. It has a high equivalent weight: one mole of MeI weighs almost three times as much as one mole of methyl chloride. However, the chloride is a gas (as is methyl bromide), making it more awkward to work with than liquid MeI. Methyl chloride is a poorer methylating reagent than MeI, though it is often adequate.
Iodides are generally expensive relative to the more common chlorides and bromides, though iodomethane is reasonably affordable; on a commercial scale the toxic dimethyl sulfate is preferred, since it is both cheap and liquid. The iodide leaving group in MeI may cause side reactions, as it is a powerful nucleophile. Finally, being highly reactive, MeI is more dangerous for laboratory workers than related chlorides and bromides. When considering alternatives to MeI, it is necessary to consider cost, handling, risk, chemical selectivity, and ease of reaction work-up.
Besides use as a methylation agent, there have been proposals of its use as a fungicide, herbicide, insecticide or nematicide and as a fire extinguisher. Further it can be used as a soil disinfectant, replacing bromomethane (which was banned under the Montreal Protocol), and in microscopy due to properties related to refraction index. In a controversial October 2007 decision, the United States Environmental Protection Agency approved its use as a soil fumigant in some cases, although it cannot yet be used in California (a major potential market) due to lack of state approval.
Breathing iodomethane fumes can cause lung, liver, kidney and central nervous system damage. It causes nausea, dizziness, coughing and vomiting. Prolonged contact with skin causes burns. Massive inhalation causes pulmonary edema.
|This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Iodomethane". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.|