The 2016 Bradley-Mason prize for open chemistry.

October 4th, 2016
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Peter Murray-Rust and I are delighted to announce that the 2016 award of the Bradley-Mason prize for open chemistry goes to Jan Szopinski (UG) and Clyde Fare (PG).

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σ or π nucleophilic reactivity of imines? A mechanistic twist emerges.

September 28th, 2016
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The story so far. Imines react with a peracid to form either a nitrone (σ-nucleophile) or an oxaziridine (π-nucleophile).[1] The balance between the two is on an experimental knife-edge, being strongly influenced by substituents on the imine. Modelling these reactions using the “normal” mechanism for peracid oxidation did not reproduce this knife-edge, with ΔΔG (π-σ) 16.2 kcal/mol being rather too far from a fine balance.

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References

  1. D.R. Boyd, P.B. Coulter, N.D. Sharma, W. Jennings, and V.E. Wilson, "Normal, abnormal and pseudo-abnormal reaction pathways for the imine-peroxyacid reaction", Tetrahedron Letters, vol. 26, pp. 1673-1676, 1985. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0040-4039(00)98582-4

More stereoelectronics galore: hexamethylene triperoxide diamine.

September 22nd, 2016
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Compounds with O-O bonds often have weird properties. For example, artemisinin, which has some fascinating stereoelectronics. Here is another such, recently in the news and known as HMTD (hexamethylene triperoxide diamine). The crystal structure was reported some time ago[1] and the article included an inspection of the computed wavefunction. However this did not look at the potential stereoelectronics in this species, which I now address here.

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References

  1. A. Wierzbicki, E.A. Salter, E.A. Cioffi, and E.D. Stevens, "Density Functional Theory and X-ray Investigations of P- and M-Hexamethylene Triperoxide Diamine and Its Dialdehyde Derivative", J. Phys. Chem. A, vol. 105, pp. 8763-8768, 2001. http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/jp0123841

σ or π? The ambident nucleophilic reactivity of imines: crystallographic and computational reality checks.

September 21st, 2016
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Nucleophiles are species that seek to react with an electron deficient centre by donating a lone or a π-bond pair of electrons. The ambident variety has two or more such possible sources in the same molecule, an example of which might be hydroxylamine or H2NOH. I previously discussed how for this example, the energetics allow the nitrogen lone pair (Lp) to win out over the O Lp. Here, I play a similar game, but this time setting an NLp up against a π-pair.

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What’s in a name? Stabilised “nitrenes”.

September 19th, 2016
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I previously explored stabilized “carbenes” with the formal structures (R2N)2C:, concluding that perhaps the alternative ionic representation R2N+=CNR2 might reflect their structures better. Here I take a broader look at the “carbene” landscape before asking the question “what about nitrenes?”

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What’s in a name? Carbenes: a reality check.

September 11th, 2016
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To quote from Wikipedia: in chemistry, a carbene is a molecule containing a neutral carbon atom with a valence of two and two unshared valence electrons. The most ubiquitous type of carbene of recent times is the one shown below as 1, often referred to as a resonance stabilised or persistent carbene. This type is of interest because of its ability to act as a ligand to an astonishingly wide variety of metals, with many of the resulting complexes being important catalysts. The Wiki page on persistent carbenes shows them throughout in form 1 below, thus reinforcing the belief that they have a valence of two and by implication six (2×2 shared + 2 unshared) electrons in the valence shell of carbon. Here I consider whether this name is really appropriate.

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Molecule orbitals as indicators of reactivity: bromoallene.

September 1st, 2016
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Bromoallene is a pretty simple molecule, with two non-equivalent double bonds. How might it react with an electrophile, say dimethyldioxirane (DMDO) to form an epoxide?[1] Here I explore the difference between two different and very simple approaches to predicting its reactivity. bromoallene

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References

  1. D. Christopher Braddock, A. Mahtey, H.S. Rzepa, and A.J.P. White, "Stable bromoallene oxides", Chem. Commun., vol. 52, pp. 11219-11222, 2016. http://dx.doi.org/10.1039/C6CC06395K

Journal innovations – the next step is augmented reality?

August 17th, 2016
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In the previous post, I noted that a chemistry publisher is about to repeat an earlier experiment in serving pre-prints of journal articles. It would be fair to suggest that following the first great period of journal innovation, the boom in rapid publication “camera-ready” articles in the 1960s, the next period of rapid innovation started around 1994 driven by the uptake of the World-Wide-Web. The CLIC project[1] aimed to embed additional data-based components into the online presentation of the journal Chem Communications, taking the form of pop-up interactive 3D molecular models and spectra. The Internet Journal of Chemistry was designed from scratch to take advantage of this new medium.[2] Here I take a look at one recent experiment in innovation which incorporates “augmented reality”.[3]

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References

  1. D. James, B.J. Whitaker, C. Hildyard, H.S. Rzepa, O. Casher, J.M. Goodman, D. Riddick, and P. Murray‐Rust, "The case for content integrity in electronic chemistry journals: The CLIC project", New Review of Information Networking, vol. 1, pp. 61-69, 1995. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13614579509516846
  2. S.M. Bachrach, and S.R. Heller, " The Internet Journal of Chemistry: A Case Study of an Electronic Chemistry Journal ", Serials Review, vol. 26, pp. 3-14, 2000. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00987913.2000.10764578
  3. S. Ley, B. Musio, F. Mariani, E. Śliwiński, M. Kabeshov, and H. Odajima, "Combination of Enabling Technologies to Improve and Describe the Stereoselectivity of Wolff–Staudinger Cascade Reaction", Synthesis, vol. 48, pp. 3515-3526, 2016. http://dx.doi.org/10.1055/s-0035-1562579

Chemistry preprint servers (revisited).

August 16th, 2016
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This week the ACS announced its intention to establish a “ChemRxiv preprint server to promote early research sharing“. This was first tried quite a few years ago, following the example of especially the physicists. As I recollect the experiment lasted about a year, attracted few submissions and even fewer of high quality. Will the concept succeed this time, in particular as promoted by a commercial publisher rather than a community of scientists (as was the original physicists model)?

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A periodic table for anomeric centres, this time with quantified interactions.

August 8th, 2016
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The previous post contained an exploration of the anomeric effect as it occurs at an atom centre X for which the effect is manifest in crystal structures. Here I quantify the effect, by selecting the test molecule MeO-X-OMe, where X is of two types:

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