The vicinity of a hydrogen bond donor (O-H) and a hydrogen bond acceptor (C=O or C=N- R) in salicylaldehydes and ortho-Schiff bases results in significant structural variations compared to the monosubstituted derivatives that are reflected in the electronic structure and thus in the spectroscopic properties. This interplay between intramolecular hydrogen bonding and multicenter p- electron delocalization is the origin of the concept of resonance-assisted hydrogen bonding (RAHB). Herein, the complexity is extended from one hydrogen bond donor-acceptor pair in salicylaldehyde and ortho-Schiff bases to three hydrogen bond donor-acceptor pairs in 2,4,6-tricarbonyl- and 2,4,6- triimine-substituted phloroglucinols (1,3,5-trihydroxybenzene), respectively. To evaluate the changes in the molecular and electronic structures, we have performed a comprehensive computational, spectroscopic, and structural study starting from monosubstituted benzene derivatives as references over ortho-disubstituted derivates to the sixfold-substituted derivatives. Whereas in salicylaldehydes, ortho- Schiff bases, and 2,4,6-tricarbonyl-phloroglucinols the phenolic O-protonated tautomers represent the energy minima, the N-protonated tautomers represent the energy minima in 2,4,6-triiminephloroglucinols. The analysis provides a keto-enamine resonance structure with six exocyclic double bonds to be dominant for these species reminiscent of radialenes, which were termed heteroradialenes. These heteroradialenes are non-aromatic alicycles. However, the predominance of this resonance structure does not represent a sudden change going from the 2,4,6-tricarbonyl- to the 2,4,6-triimine-phloroglucinols, but a gradual increase of analogous resonance structure contributions is observed even in salicylaldehyde and ortho-Schiff bases demonstrating some hetero-orthoquinodimethane character. These changes are, besides in the molecular structures, well reflected in the IR spectra, which can therefore be used as a simple tool to probe the electronic structures in these systems. Interruption of the delocalized p system supporting the intramolecular hydrogen bond, i. e. going from 2,4,6-triimine- to 2,4,6-triamine-substituted phloroglucinols, reestablishes an O-protonated aromatic phloroglucinol system.
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