First, hexacoordinate carbon – now pentacoordinate oxygen?

March 25th, 2017
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The previous post demonstrated the simple iso-electronic progression from six-coordinate carbon to five coordinate nitrogen. Here, a further progression to oxygen is investigated computationally.

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First, hexacoordinate carbon – now pentacoordinate nitrogen?

March 25th, 2017
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A few years back I followed a train of thought here which ended with hexacoordinate carbon, then a hypothesis rather than a demonstrated reality. That reality was recently confirmed via a crystal structure, DOI:10.5517/CCDC.CSD.CC1M71QM[1]. Here is a similar proposal for penta-coordinate nitrogen.

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References

  1. M. Malischewski, and K. Seppelt, "Crystal Structure Determination of the Pentagonal-Pyramidal Hexamethylbenzene Dication C6 (CH3 )6 2+ ", Angewandte Chemie International Edition, vol. 56, pp. 368-370, 2016. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/anie.201608795

Silyl cations?

March 23rd, 2017
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It is not only the non-classical norbornyl cation that has proved controversial in the past. A colleague mentioned at lunch (thanks Paul!) that tri-coordinate group 14 cations such as R3Si+ have also had an interesting history.[1] Here I take a brief look at some of these systems.

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References

  1. J.B. Lambert, Y. Zhao, H. Wu, W.C. Tse, and B. Kuhlmann, "The Allyl Leaving Group Approach to Tricoordinate Silyl, Germyl, and Stannyl Cations", Journal of the American Chemical Society, vol. 121, pp. 5001-5008, 1999. http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/ja990389u

Reaction coordinates vs Dynamic trajectories as illustrated by an example reaction mechanism.

March 20th, 2017
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The example a few posts back of how methane might invert its configuration by transposing two hydrogen atoms illustrated the reaction mechanism by locating a transition state and following it down in energy using an intrinsic reaction coordinate (IRC). Here I explore an alternative method based instead on computing a molecular dynamics trajectory (MD).

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Peroxydisulfate – “enables a non-enzymatic Krebs cycle precursor”

March 19th, 2017
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The Wikipedia entry on peroxydisulfate is quite short (as of today). But I suspect this article may change things.[1].

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References

  1. M.A. Keller, D. Kampjut, S.A. Harrison, and M. Ralser, "Sulfate radicals enable a non-enzymatic Krebs cycle precursor", Nature Ecology & Evolution, vol. 1, pp. 0083, 2017. http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41559-017-0083

Pyrophoric metals + the mechanism of thermal decomposition of magnesium oxalate.

March 19th, 2017
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A pyrophoric metal is one that burns spontaneously in oxygen; I came across this phenomenon as a teenager doing experiments at home. Pyrophoric iron for example is prepared by heating anhydrous iron (II) oxalate in a sealed test tube (i.e. to 600° or higher). When the tube is broken open and the contents released, a shower of sparks forms. Not all metals do this; early group metals such as calcium undergo a different reaction releasing carbon monoxide and forming calcium carbonate and not the metal itself. Here as a prelude to the pyrophoric reaction proper, I take a look at this alternative mechanism using calculations.

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How does silane invert (its configuration)?

March 16th, 2017
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In the previous post, I found intriguing the mechanism by which methane (CH4) inverts by transposing two of its hydrogens. Here I take a look at silane, SiH4.

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How does methane invert (its configuration)?

March 16th, 2017
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This is a spin-off from the table I constructed here for further chemical examples of the classical/non-classical norbornyl cation conundrum. One possible entry would include the transition state for inversion of methane via a square planar geometry as compared with e.g. NiH4 for which the square planar motif is its minimum. So is square planar methane a true transition state for inversion (of configuration) of carbon?

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Expanding on the curious connection between the norbornyl cation and small-ring aromatics.

March 12th, 2017
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This is another of those posts that has morphed from an earlier one noting the death of the great chemist George Olah. The discussion about the norbornyl cation concentrated on whether this species existed in a single minimum symmetric energy well (the non-classical Winstein/Olah proposal) or a double minimum well connected by a symmetric transition state (the classical Brown proposal). In a comment on the post, I added other examples in chemistry of single/double minima, mapped here to non-classical/classical structures. I now expand on the examples related to small aromatic or anti-aromatic rings.

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George Olah and the norbornyl cation.

March 10th, 2017
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George Olah passed away on March 8th. He was part of the generation of scientists in the post-war 1950s who had access to chemical instrumentation that truly revolutionised chemistry. In particular he showed how the then newly available NMR spectroscopy illuminated structures of cations in solvents such “Magic acid“. The obituaries will probably mention his famous “feud” with H. C. Brown over the structure of the norbornyl cation (X=CH2+), implicated in the mechanism of many a solvolysis reaction that characterised the golden period of physical organic chemistry just before and after WWII. 

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