- H. Maddox, and J.D. McCullough, " The Crystal and Molecular Structure of the Iodine Complex of 1-Oxa-4-selenacyclohexane, C 4 H 8 OSe.I 2 ", Inorganic Chemistry, vol. 5, pp. 522-526, 1966. http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/ic50038a006
Nitrogen tri-iodide, or more accurately the complex between it and ammonia ranks amongst the oldest known molecules (1812). I became familiar with it around the age of 12-13, in an era long gone when boys (and very possibly girls too) were allowed to make such substances in their parent’s back gardens‡ and in fact in the school science laboratory,† an experiment which earned me a personal request to visit the head teacher.
Pursuing the topic of halogen bonds, the system DABCO (a tertiary dibase) and iodine form an intriguing complex. Here I explore some unusual features of the structure HEKZOO as published in 2012 and ask whether the bonding between the donor (N) and the acceptor (I-I) really is best described as a “non-covalent-interaction” (NCI) or not.
Halogen bonds are less familiar cousins to hydrogen bonds. They are defined as non-covalent interactions (NCI) between a halogen atom (X, acting as a Lewis acid, in accepting electrons) and a Lewis base D donating electrons; D….X-A vs D…H-A. They are superficially surprising, since both D and X look like electron rich species. In fact the electron distribution around X-X (A=X) is highly anisotropic, with the electron rich distribution (the “donor”) being in a torus encircling the bond, and an electron deficient region (the “acceptor”) lying along the axis of the bond.
I am attending a conference. Plenaries at such events can sometimes provide interesting pointers on things to come (and sometimes they simply point to things past). At WATOC2014 in Santiago Chile, the first plenary was by Paul Ayers with the impressive title “Concepts for organising chemical knowledge” which certainly sounds as if it is pointing forward!
The outcome of pericyclic reactions con depend most simply on three conditions, any two of which determine the third. Whether the catalyst is Δ or hν (heat or light), the topology determining any stereochemistry and the participating electron count (4n+2/4n). It is always neat to conjure up a simple switch to toggle these; heat or light is simple, but what are the options for toggling the electron count? Here is one I have contrived by playing a game with the periodic table. The ring closure of a divinylketone is called the Nazarov reaction, it being promoted thermodynamically by coordination of a Lewis acid to atom X. Divinyl ketone can be regarded as a hidden pentadienyl cation, since the C=O bond is polarised Cδ+Oδ- in the time-honoured manner of organic chemistry. In this (formal) resonance form, it becomes part of a pentadienyl cation and can electrocyclise via a 4-electron reaction involving a stereochemical process known as conrotation. The new bond is formed antarafacially (from opposite faces) at the termini of the pentadienyl cation (ωB97XD/6-311G(d,p)/SCRF=dichloromethane.). Note that for the uncatalysed reaction, the barrier is high and the reaction is endothermic but adding a BF3 to the oxygen lowers the barrier and removes the endothermicity. So, one can play a game and ask what would happen if the polarity of the C=X bond were to be reversed. This means going left of oxygen in the periodic table, ending at Be. The reaction has a high barrier, but it is strongly exothermic.† However the most noteworthy aspect is that the stereochemistry of the electrocyclisation is now disrotatory, with suprafacial bond formation (from the bottom face in the animation below). The stereochemical outcome of this reaction has been flipped by reversing the polarity of the CX bond.‡ This little example shows how a thought game played using the periodic table can then be reality tested by solving appropriate quantum mechanical equations. In this instance, one is not going to rush into the laboratory to try to replicate the experiment, but it might help catalyse new thoughts amongst the readers of this blog.
Following the discussion here of Kekulé’s suggestion of what we now call a vibrational mode (and which in fact now bears his name), I thought I might apply the concept to a recent molecule known as [2.2]paracyclophane. The idea was sparked by Steve Bachrach’s latest post, where the “zero-point” structure of the molecule has recently been clarified as having D2 symmetry.