In answering tutorial problems, students often need skills in deciding how much time to spend on explaining what does not happen, as well as what does. Here I explore alternatives to the mechanism outlined in the previous post to see what computation has to say about what does (or might) not happen.
Archive for the ‘Interesting chemistry’ Category
A tutorial problem in stereoelectronic control. A Grob alternative to the Tiffeneau-Demjanov rearrangement?Saturday, November 28th, 2015
A tutorial problem in stereoelectronic control. The Tiffeneau-Demjanov rearrangement as part of a prostaglandin synthesis.Monday, November 23rd, 2015
This reaction emerged a few years ago (thanks Alan!) as a tutorial problem in organic chemistry, in which students had to devise a mechanism for the reaction and use this to predict the stereochemical outcome at the two chiral centres indicated with *. It originates in a brief report from R. B. Woodward’s group in 1973 describing a prostaglandin synthesis, the stereochemical outcome being crucial. Here I take a look at this mechanism using computation.
- R.B. Woodward, J. Gosteli, I. Ernest, R.J. Friary, G. Nestler, H. Raman, R. Sitrin, C. Suter, and J.K. Whitesell, "Novel synthesis of prostaglandin F2.alpha.", J. Am. Chem. Soc., vol. 95, pp. 6853-6855, 1973. http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/ja00801a066
Steve Bachrach on his own blog has commented on a recent article discussing the structure of the trimer of fluoroethanol. Rather than the expected triangular form with three OH—O hydrogen bonds, the lowest energy form only had two such bonds, but it matched the microwave data much better. Here I explore this a bit more.
- J. Thomas, X. Liu, W. Jäger, and Y. Xu, "Unusual H-Bond Topology and Bifurcated H-bonds in the 2-Fluoroethanol Trimer", Angewandte Chemie International Edition, vol. 54, pp. 11711-11715, 2015. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/anie.201505934
In Jingdezhen an Imperial Kiln was built in 1369 to produce porcelain that was “white as jade, thin as paper, bright as a mirror and tuneful as a bell”. It’s the colours of the glazes that caught my eye, achieved by a combination of oxidative and reductive firing in the kiln, coupled with exquisite control of the temperature.
Yes, no, yes. Computational mechanistic exploration of (nickel-catalysed) cyclopropanation using tetramethylammonium triflate.Thursday, October 1st, 2015
A fascinating re-examination has appeared of a reaction first published in 1960 by Wittig and then repudiated by him in 1964 since it could not be replicated by a later student. According to the new work, the secret to a successful replication seems to be the presence of traces of a nickel catalyst (originally coming from e.g. a nickel spatula?). In this recent article a mechanism for the catalytic cycle is proposed. Here I thought I might explore this mechanism using calculations to see if any further insights might emerge.
- S.A. Künzi, J.M. Sarria Toro, T. den Hartog, and P. Chen, " Nickel-Catalyzed Cyclopropanation with NMe 4 OTf and n BuLi ", Angewandte Chemie International Edition, vol. 54, pp. 10670-10674, 2015. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/anie.201505482
- V. Franzen, and G. Wittig, "Trimethylammonium-methylid als Methylen-Donator", Angewandte Chemie, vol. 72, pp. 417-417, 1960. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ange.19600721210
- G. Wittig, and D. Krauss, "Cyclopropanierungen bei Einwirkung vonN-Yliden auf Olefine", Justus Liebigs Ann. Chem., vol. 679, pp. 34-41, 1964. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jlac.19646790106
How does an anaesthetic work? Surprisingly, it is only recently that the possible binding sites of the anaesthetic propofol (2,6-di-isopropylphenol) have been identified using a technique known as photoaffinity labelling. A propofol analogue was constructed by replacing one of the isopropyl groups with a trifluoromethyl diazirine group (R=CF3, X=Y=N below). Upon photolysis, this species looses nitrogen and forms a carbene as a reactive species, which with further chemistry binds covalently to adjacent amino acids in the binding pocket.These modified segments could then be analysed by mass spectrometry. An isomer of diazirine is diazomethane, which is some 11 kcal/mol lower in free energy, but fortunately the diazirene is preventing from thermally isomerising to this species by a large kinetic barrier. That was the intro; now for a connection.‡ I recently attended a presentation on another medical topic, the therapeutic uses of carbon monoxide. In higher concentrations it is notoriously lethal, but with appropriate delivery it can be therapeutic. So, intertwingling, I asked myself what the properties of the carbon monoxide isoelectronic analogue of a diazirine might be (X=C, Y=O below).
- G.M.S. Yip, Z. Chen, C.J. Edge, E.H. Smith, R. Dickinson, E. Hohenester, R.R. Townsend, K. Fuchs, W. Sieghart, A.S. Evers, and N.P. Franks, "A propofol binding site on mammalian GABAA receptors identified by photolabeling", Nature Chemical Biology, vol. 9, pp. 715-720, 2013. http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nchembio.1340
- L. Dubinsky, B.P. Krom, and M.M. Meijler, "Diazirine based photoaffinity labeling", Bioorganic & Medicinal Chemistry, vol. 20, pp. 554-570, 2012. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bmc.2011.06.066
- R. Motterlini, and L.E. Otterbein, "The therapeutic potential of carbon monoxide", Nature Reviews Drug Discovery, vol. 9, pp. 728-743, 2010. http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nrd3228
I recently followed this bloggers trail; link1 → link2 to arrive at this delightful short commentary on atom-atom bonds in crystals 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, 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.
Peter Edwards has just given the 2015 Hofmann lecture here at Imperial on the topic of solvated electrons. An organic chemist knows this species as “e–” and it occurs in ionic compounds known as electrides; chloride = the negative anion of a chlorine atom, hence electride = the negative anion of an electron. It struck me how very odd these molecules are and so I thought I might share here some properties I computed after the lecture for a specific electride known as GAVKIS. If you really want to learn (almost) everything about these strange species, go read the wonderful review by Zurek, Edwards and Hoffmann, including a lesson in the history of chemistry stretching back almost 200 years.
- D.L. Ward, R.H. Huang, and J.L. Dye, "Structures of alkalides and electrides. I. Structure of potassium cryptand[2.2.2] electride", Acta Crystallogr C, vol. 44, pp. 1374-1376, 1988. http://dx.doi.org/10.1107/S0108270188002847
- E. Zurek, P.P. Edwards, and R. Hoffmann, "A Molecular Perspective on Lithium-Ammonia Solutions", Angewandte Chemie International Edition, vol. 48, pp. 8198-8232, 2009. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/anie.200900373
As I have noted elsewhere, Gilbert N. Lewis wrote a famous paper entitled “the atom and the molecule“, the centenary of which is coming up. In a short and rarely commented upon remark, he speculates about the shared electron pair structure of acetylene, R-X≡X-R (R=H, X=C). It could, he suggests, take up three forms. H-C:::C-H and two more which I show as he drew them. The first of these would now be called a bis-carbene and the second a biradical.
- 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