Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Arts and Sciences



First Advisor

Dr. David A. Atwood


The focus of this dissertation is the use of aluminum Schiff base compounds, Salen(tBu)AlBr (SAB), in the dealkylation and detection of organophosphates (OPs). Three SAB compounds, Salen(tBu)AlBr (1), Salpen(tBu)AlBr (2), and Salophen(tBu)AlBr (3) were used to dealkylate a variety of trialkyl OPs. These reactions lead to unique organic-soluble aluminum phosphate compounds containing six-coordinate aluminum. Examples include [salen(tBu)AlOP(O)(OCH3)2]n (4), [salen(tBu)AlOP(O)(OCH2CH3)2]n (5), [salen(tBu)AlOP(O)(OPh)2]n (6), [Salophen(tBu)AlOP(O)(OCH3)2 (7), Salpen(tBu)AlOOP(O)(OiPr)2 (8). These compounds are unique examples of polymeric (4, 5, 6 and 7) and dimeric compounds (8) with salenAl units connected by phosphate linkages. The compounds do not decompose in neutral water. This is an advantage in the use of SABs for the deactivation of phosphate esters such as nerve agents.

Water-soluble and stable group 13 salen complexes, Salen(SO3Na)MNO3 (M =Al (19), Ga (22)), Salpen(SO3Na)MNO3 (M = Al (20), Ga (23)), and Salophen(SO3Na)M(NO3) (M = Al (21), Ga (24)) were synthesized by using water-soluble Salen(SO3Na) ligand. All the compounds were characterized by various analytical techniques: 1H and 13C NMR, IR, and melting point.

One SAB was used to detect the nerve agents (NA). Salen(tBu)Al(Ac), prepared in situ from Salen(tBu)AlBr and NaAc, forms Lewis acid-base adducts with the NAs, GB (sarin) and GD (soman), and the VX hydrolysis product, EMPA, in aqueous solution. The [Salen(tBu)Al(NA)]+ compound is sufficiently stable to allow the identification of the NA with ESI-MS. Molecular ion peak was detected for every compound with little or no fragmentation. The distinctive MS signatures for [Salen(tBu)Al(NA)]+ compounds provide a new technique for identifying NAs in aqueous solution.