A tourist trip around London Overground with a chemical theme.

August 29th, 2015
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Most visitors to London use the famous underground trains (the “tube”) or a double-decker bus to see the city (one can also use rivers and canals). So I thought, during the tourism month of August, I would show you an alternative overground circumnavigation of the city using the metaphor of benzene.

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A visualization of the anomeric effect from crystal structures.

August 27th, 2015
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The anomeric effect is best known in sugars, occuring in sub-structures such as RO-C-OR. Its origins relate to how the lone pairs on each oxygen atom align with the adjacent C-O bonds. When the alignment is 180°, one oxygen lone pair can donate into the C-O σ* empty orbital and a stabilisation occurs. Here I explore whether crystal structures reflect this effect.

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Mesomeric resonance in substituted benzenes: a crystallographic reality check.

August 26th, 2015
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Previously, I showed how conjugation in dienes and diaryls can be visualised by inspecting bond lengths as a function of torsions. Here is another illustration, this time of the mesomeric resonance on a benzene ring induced by an electron donating substituent (an amino group) or an electron withdrawing substituent (cyano).

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A visualisation of the effects of conjugation; dienes and biaryls.

August 25th, 2015
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Here is another exploration of simple chemical concepts using crystal structures. Consider a simple diene: how does the central C-C bond length respond to the torsion angle between the two C=C bonds?

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A (light) introductory tutorial on Research Data Management (in chemistry).

August 20th, 2015
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Management of research (data) outputs is a hot topic in the UK at the moment, although the topic has been rumbling for five years or more. Most research-active higher educational establishments have or are about to publish general guidelines, which predominantly take the form of aspirational targets rather than actionable examples or use-cases. Because the concepts remain somewhat abstract, one can encounter questions from researchers such as “how should I go about achieving such RDM (research data management)?” I thought it might be useful for me to here summarise some key features in the form of an FAQ that can help answer that question. I will concentrate purely on the sub-set chemistry about which I know most.

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The chemical Web at 22 and where it might go.

August 19th, 2015
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This post is prompted by the appearance of a retrospective special issue of C&E news, with what appears to be its very own Website: internet.cenmag.org. It contains articles and interviews with many interesting people, along with several variations on the historical (albeit rather USA-centric) perspectives and a time-line covers many of the key innovations (again, from a USA-perspective). Some subjects are covered in greater depth, including computational chemistry. The periodic table too gets coverage, but surprisingly that is not of Mark Winter’s WebElements, which carries the impressive 1993-2015 continuous timeline (hence 22 in the title!).  

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Single Figure (nano)publications, reddit AMAs and other new approaches to research reporting

August 5th, 2015
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I recently received two emails each with a subject line new approaches to research reporting. The traditional 350 year-old model of the (scientific) journal is undergoing upheavals at the moment with the introduction of APCs (article processing charges), a refereeing crisis and much more. Some argue that brand new thinking is now required. Here are two such innovations (and I leave you to judge whether that last word should have an appended ?).

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Intermolecular atom-atom bonds in crystals? The O…O case.

July 25th, 2015
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I recently followed this bloggers trail; link1link2 to arrive at this delightful short commentary on atom-atom bonds in crystals[1] by Jack Dunitz. Here he discusses that age-old question (to chemists), what is a bond? Even almost 100 years after Gilbert Lewis’ famous analysis,[2] we continue to ponder this question. Indeed, quite a debate on this topic broke out in a recent post here. My eye was caught by one example in Jack’s article: “The close stacking of planar anions, as occurs in salts of croconic acid …far from producing a lowering of the crystal energy, this stacking interaction in itself leads to an increase by several thousand kJ mol−1 arising from Coulombic repulsion between the doubly negatively charged anions” I thought I might explore this point a bit further in this post.

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References

  1. J.D. Dunitz, "Intermolecular atom–atom bonds in crystals?", Int Union Crystallogr J, vol. 2, pp. 157-158, 2015. http://dx.doi.org/10.1107/S2052252515002006
  2. G.N. Lewis, "THE ATOM AND THE MOLECULE.", J. Am. Chem. Soc., vol. 38, pp. 762-785, 1916. http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/ja02261a002

The structure of naphthalene: 1890-1925, and a modern twist.

July 18th, 2015
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This is a little historical essay into the electronic structure of naphthalene, presented as key dates (and also collects comments made which were appended to other posts).

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Reproducibility in science: calculated kinetic isotope effects for cyclopropyl carbinyl radical.

July 11th, 2015
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Previously on the kinetic isotope effects for the Baeyer-Villiger reaction, I was discussing whether a realistic computed model could be constructed for the mechanism. The measured KIE or kinetic isotope effects (along with the approximate rate of the reaction) were to be our reality check. I had used ΔΔG energy differences and then HRR (harmonic rate ratios) to compute[1] the KIE, and Dan Singleton asked if I had included heavy atom tunnelling corrections in the calculation, which I had not. His group has shown these are not negligible for low-barrier reactions such as ring opening of cyclopropyl carbinyl radical.[2] As a prelude to configuring his suggested programs for computing tunnelling (GAUSSRATE and POLYRATE), it was important I learnt how to reproduce his KIE values.[2] Hence the title of this post. Now, read on.

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References

  1. Rzepa, Henry S.., "KINISOT. A basic program to calculate kinetic isotope effects using normal coordinate analysis of transition state and reactants.", 2015. http://dx.doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.19272
  2. O.M. Gonzalez-James, X. Zhang, A. Datta, D.A. Hrovat, W.T. Borden, and D.A. Singleton, " Experimental Evidence for Heavy-Atom Tunneling in the Ring-Opening of Cyclopropylcarbinyl Radical from Intramolecular 12 C/ 13 C Kinetic Isotope Effects ", J. Am. Chem. Soc., vol. 132, pp. 12548-12549, 2010. http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/ja1055593