Here is another example gleaned from that Woodward essay of 1967 (Chem. Soc. Special Publications (Aromaticity), 1967, 21, 217-249), where all might not be what it seems.
Archive for the ‘Historical’ Category
Sometimes the originators of seminal theories in chemistry write a personal and anecdotal account of their work. Niels Bohr was one such and four decades later Robert Woodward wrote “The conservation of orbital symmetry” (Chem. Soc. Special Publications (Aromaticity), 1967, 21, 217-249; it is not online and so no doi can be given). Much interesting chemistry is described there, but (like Bohr in his article), Woodward lists no citations at the end, merely giving attributions by name. Thus the following chemistry (p 236 of this article) is attributed to a Professor Fonken, and goes as follows (excluding the structure in red):
- N. Bohr, "Der Bau der Atome und die physikalischen und chemischen Eigenschaften der Elemente", Zeitschrift f�r Physik, vol. 9, pp. 1-67, 1922. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/BF01326955
The concept of a shared electron bond and its property of an order is almost 100 years old in modern form, when G. N. Lewis suggested a model for single and double bonds that involved sharing either 2 or 4 electrons between a pair of atoms. We tend to think of such (even electron) bonds in terms of their formal bond order (an integer), recognising that the actual bond order (however defined) may not fulfil this value. I thought I would very (very) briefly review the history of such bonds.
- G.N. Lewis, "", Journal of the American Chemical Society, vol. 38, pp. 762-785, 1916. http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/ja02261a002
William Henry Perkin is a local chemical hero of mine. The factory where he founded the British (nay, the World) fine organic chemicals industry is in Greenford, just up the road from where we live. The factory used to be close to the Black Horse pub (see below) on banks of the grand union canal. It is now commemorated merely by a blue plaque placed on the wall of the modern joinery building occupying the location.
Infra-red spectroscopy of molecules was introduced 110 years ago by Coblentz as the first functional group spectroscopic method (“ The structure of the compound has a great influence on the absorption spectra. In many cases it seems as though certain bonds are due to certain groups.“). It hangs on in laboratories to this day as a rapid and occasionally valuable diagnostic tool, taking just minutes to measure. Its modern utility rests on detecting common functional groups, mostly based around identifying the nature of double or triple bonds, and to a lesser extent in differentiating between different kinds of C-H stretches (and of course OH and NH). One common use is to identify the environment of carbonyl groups, C=O. These tend to come in the form of aldehydes and ketones, esters, amides, acyl halides, anhydrides and carbonyls which are part of small rings. The analysis is performed by assigning the value of the C=O stretching wavenumber to a particular range characteristic of each type of compound. Thus ketones are said to inhabit the range of ~1715-1740 cm-1 and simple esters come at ~1740-1760 cm-1, some 20-30 cm-1 higher. Here I try to analyse how this difference arises.
- W.W. Coblentz, "Infra-red Absorption Spectra: I. Gases", Physical Review (Series I), vol. 20, pp. 273-291, 1905. http://dx.doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevSeriesI.20.273
- J.L. Arbour, H.S. Rzepa, J. Contreras-García, L.A. Adrio, E.M. Barreiro, and K.K.M. Hii, "Silver-Catalysed Enantioselective Addition of OH and NH Bonds to Allenes: A New Model for Stereoselectivity Based on Noncovalent Interactions", Chemistry - A European Journal, vol. 18, pp. 11317-11324, 2012. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/chem.201200547
The benzidine rearrangement is claimed to be an example of the quite rare [5,5] sigmatropic migration, which is a ten-electron homologation of the very common [3,3] sigmatropic reaction (e.g. the Cope or Claisen). Some benzidine rearrangements are indeed thought to go through the [3,3] route. The topic has been reviewed here.
- H.J. Shine, K.H. Park, M.L. Brownawell, and J. San Filippo, "Benzidine rearrangements. 19. The concerted nature of the one-proton rearrangement of 2,2'-dimethoxyhydrazobenzene", Journal of the American Chemical Society, vol. 106, pp. 7077-7082, 1984. http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/ja00335a035
- H.J. Shine, L. Kupczyk-Subotkowska, and W. Subotkowski, "Heavy-atom kinetic isotope effects in the acid-catalyzed rearrangement of N-2-naphthyl-N'-phenylhydrazine. Rearrangement is shown to be a concerted process", Journal of the American Chemical Society, vol. 107, pp. 6674-6678, 1985. http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/ja00309a041
- H.J. Shine, "Reflections on the ?-complex theory of benzidine rearrangements", Journal of Physical Organic Chemistry, vol. 2, pp. 491-506, 1989. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/poc.610020702
I have written earlier about dihydrocostunolide, and how in 1963 Corey missed spotting the electronic origins of a key step in its synthesis.. A nice juxtaposition to this failed opportunity relates to Woodward’s project at around the same time to synthesize vitamin B12. The step in the synthesis that caused him to ponder is shown below.
- E.J. Corey, and A.G. Hortmann, "", Journal of the American Chemical Society, vol. 87, pp. 5736-5742, 1965. http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/ja00952a037