Archive for the ‘reaction mechanism’ Category

Dyotropic Ring Expansion: more mechanistic reality checks.

Sunday, October 1st, 2017
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I noted in my WATOC conference report a presentation describing the use of calculated reaction barriers (and derived rate constants) as mechanistic reality checks. Computations, it was claimed, have now reached a level of accuracy whereby a barrier calculated as being 6 kcal/mol too high can start ringing mechanistic alarm bells. So when I came across this article[1] in which calculated barriers for a dyotropic ring expansion observed under mild conditions in dichloromethane as solvent were used to make mechanistic inferences, I decided to explore the mechanism a bit further.

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References

  1. H. Santalla, O.N. Faza, G. Gómez, Y. Fall, and C. Silva López, "From Hydrindane to Decalin: A Mild Transformation through a Dyotropic Ring Expansion", Organic Letters, vol. 19, pp. 3648-3651, 2017. http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acs.orglett.7b01621

Hydrogen capture by boron: a crazy reaction path!

Thursday, September 21st, 2017
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A recent article reports, amongst other topics, a computationally modelled reaction involving the capture of molecular hydrogen using a substituted borane (X=N, Y=C).[1] The mechanism involves an initial equilibrium between React and Int1, followed by capture of the hydrogen by Int1 to form a 5-coordinate borane intermediate (Int2 below, as per Figure 11). This was followed by assistance from a proximate basic nitrogen to complete the hydrogen capture via a TS involving H-H cleavage. The forward free energy barrier to capture was ~11 kcal/mol and ~4 kcal/mol in the reverse direction (relative to the species labelled Int1), both suitably low for reversible hydrogen capture. Here I explore a simple variation to this fascinating reaction.

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References

  1. L. Li, M. Lei, Y. Xie, H.F. Schaefer, B. Chen, and R. Hoffmann, "Stabilizing a different cyclooctatetraene stereoisomer", Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol. 114, pp. 9803-9808, 2017. http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1709586114

The conformation of enols: revealed and explained.

Thursday, April 6th, 2017
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Enols are simple compounds with an OH group as a substituent on a C=C double bond and with a very distinct conformational preference for the OH group. Here I take a look at this preference as revealed by crystal structures, with the theoretical explanation.

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What is the (calculated) structure of a norbornyl cation anion-pair in water?

Saturday, April 1st, 2017
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In a comment appended to an earlier post, I mused about the magnitude of the force constant relating to the interconversion between a classical and a non-classical structure for the norbornyl cation. Most calculations indicate the force constant for an “isolated” symmetrical cation is +ve, which means it is a true minimum and not a transition state for a [1,2] shift. The latter would have been required if the species equilibrated between two classical carbocations. I then pondered what might happen to both the magnitude and the sign of this force constant if various layers of solvation and eventually a counter-ion were to be applied to the molecule, so that a bridge of sorts between the different states of solid crystals, superacid and aqueous solutions might be built.

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

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

Sunday, 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)?

Thursday, 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)?

Thursday, 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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Forming a stabilized m-benzyne.

Friday, January 20th, 2017
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The story so far. Inspired by the report of the most polar neutral compound yet made, I suggested some candidates based on the azulene ring system that if made might be even more polar. This then led to considering a smaller π-analogue of azulene, m-benzyne. Here I ponder how a derivative of this molecule might be made, using computational profiling as one reality check.

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The smallest C-C-C angle?

Monday, October 31st, 2016
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Is asking a question such as “what is the smallest angle subtended at a chain of three connected 4-coordinate carbon atoms” just seeking another chemical record, or could it unearth interesting chemistry?

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