Enantioselective epoxidation of alkenes using the Shi Fructose-based catalyst. An undergraduate experiment.

April 15th, 2014

The journal of chemical education can be a fertile source of ideas for undergraduate student experiments. Take this procedure for asymmetric epoxidation of an alkene.[1] When I first spotted it, I thought not only would it be interesting to do in the lab, but could be extended by incorporating some modern computational aspects as well. 

Read the rest of this entry »

References

  1. A. Burke, P. Dillon, K. Martin, and T.W. Hanks, "Catalytic Asymmetric Epoxidation Using a Fructose-Derived Catalyst", J. Chem. Educ., vol. 77, pp. 271, 2000. http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/ed077p271

Artemisinin: are stereo-electronics at the core of its (re)activity?

April 13th, 2014

Around 100 tons of the potent antimalarial artemisinin is produced annually; a remarkable quantity given its very unusual and fragile looking molecular structure (below). When I looked at this, I was immediately struck by a thought: surely this is a classic molecule for analyzing stereoelectronic effects (anomeric and gauche). Here this aspect is explored.

Read the rest of this entry »

A connected world (journals and blogs): The benzene dication.

April 10th, 2014

Science is rarely about a totally new observation or rationalisation, it is much more about making connections between known facts, and perhaps using these connections to extrapolate to new areas (building on the shoulders of giants, etc). So here I chart one example of such connectivity over a period of six years.

Read the rest of this entry »

What is the best way of folding a straight chain alkane?

April 6th, 2014

In the previous post, I showed how modelling of unbranched alkenes depended on dispersion forces. When these are included, a bent (single-hairpin) form of C58H118 becomes lower in free energy than the fully extended linear form. Here I try to optimise these dispersion forces by adding further folds to see what happens.

Read the rest of this entry »

Modelling the geometry of unbranched alkanes.

March 29th, 2014

By about C17H36, the geometry of “cold-isolated” unbranched saturated alkenes is supposed not to contain any fully anti-periplanar conformations. [1] Indeed, a (co-crystal) of C16H34 shows it to have two-gauche bends.[2]. Surprisingly, the longest linear alkane I was able to find a crystal structure for, C28H58 appears to be fully extended[3],[4] (an early report of a low quality structure for C36H74[5] also appears to show it as linear). Here I explore how standard DFT theories cope with these structures.

Read the rest of this entry »

References

  1. N.O.B. Lüttschwager, T.N. Wassermann, R.A. Mata, and M.A. Suhm, "The Last Globally Stable Extended Alkane", Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., vol. 52, pp. 463-466, 2013. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/anie.201202894
  2. N. Cocherel, C. Poriel, J. Rault-Berthelot, F. Barrière, N. Audebrand, A.M.Z. Slawin, and L. Vignau, "New 3π-2Spiro Ladder-Type Phenylene Materials: Synthesis, Physicochemical Properties and Applications in OLEDs", Chemistry - A European Journal, vol. 14, pp. 11328-11342, 2008. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/chem.200801428
  3. S.C. Nyburg, and A.R. Gerson, "Crystallography of the even n-alkanes: structure of C20H42", Acta Cryst Sect B, vol. 48, pp. 103-106, 1992. http://dx.doi.org/10.1107/S0108768191011059
  4. R. Boistelle, B. Simon, and G. Pèpe, "Polytypic structures of n-C28H58 (octacosane) and n-C36H74 (hexatriacontane)", Acta Crystallographica Section B Structural Crystallography and Crystal Chemistry, vol. 32, pp. 1240-1243, 1976. http://dx.doi.org/10.1107/S0567740876005025
  5. H.M.M. Shearer, and V. Vand, "The crystal structure of the monoclinic form of n-hexatriacontant", Acta Crystallographica, vol. 9, pp. 379-384, 1956. http://dx.doi.org/10.1107/S0365110X5600111X

Five things you did not know about (fork) handles.

March 18th, 2014

OK, you have to be British to understand the pun in the title, a famous comedy skit about four candles. Back to science, and my mention of some crystal data now having a DOI in the previous post. I thought it might be fun to replicate the contents of one of my ACS slides here.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Amsterdam Manifesto and crystal structures.

March 18th, 2014

I have mentioned the Amsterdam manifesto before on these pages. It is worth repeating the eight simple principles:

Read the rest of this entry »

Happy 25th birthday, WWW.

March 12th, 2014

A short post this, to remind that today is officially the 25th birthday of the World-Wide-Web, in March 1989. It took five years for a conference around the theme to be organised and below is a photo from that event.

Read the rest of this entry »

Aromatic electrophilic substitution. A different light on the bromination of benzene.

March 12th, 2014

My previous post related to the aromatic electrophilic substitution of benzene using as electrophile phenyl diazonium chloride. Another prototypical reaction, and again one where benzene is too inactive for the reaction to occur easily, is the catalyst-free bromination of benzene to give bromobenzene and HBr. 

Read the rest of this entry »

The mechanism of diazo coupling: more hidden mechanistic intermediates.

March 8th, 2014

The diazo-coupling reaction dates back to the 1850s (and a close association with Imperial College via the first professor of chemistry there, August von Hofmann) and its mechanism was much studied in the heyday of physical organic chemistry.[1] Nick Greeves, purveyor of the excellent ChemTube3D site, contacted me about the transition state (I have commented previously on this aspect of aromatic electrophilic substitution). ChemTube3D recruits undergraduates to add new entries; Blue Jenkins is one such adding a section on dyes.

Read the rest of this entry »

References

  1. S.B. Hanna, C. Jermini, H. Loewenschuss, and H. Zollinger, "Indices of transition state symmetry in proton-transfer reactions. Kinetic isotope effects and Bronested's .beta. in base-catalyzed diazo-coupling reactions", J. Am. Chem. Soc., vol. 96, pp. 7222-7228, 1974. http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/ja00830a009