Cavities promote reactions, and they can also trap the products of reactions. Such (supramolecular) chemistry is used to provide models for how enzymes work, but it also allows un-natural reactions to be undertaken. A famous example is the preparation of P4 (see blog post here), an otherwise highly reactive species which, when trapped in the cavity is now sufficiently protected from the ravages of oxygen for its X-ray structure to be determined. A colleague recently alerted me to a just-published article by Legrand, van der Lee and Barboiu (DOI: 10.1126/science.1188002) who report the use of cavities to trap and stabilize the notoriously (self)reactive 1,3-dimethylcyclobutadiene (3/4 in the scheme below). Again sequestration by the host allowed an x-ray determination of the captured species!
Posts Tagged ‘cavity’
An earlier post described how a (spherical) halide anion fitted snugly into a cavity generated by the simple molecule propanone, itself assembled by sodium cations coordinating to the oxygen. A recent elaboration of this theme, reminiscent of the children’s toys where objects have to be fitted into the only cavity that matches their shape, Nitschke and co-workers report the creation of a molecule with a tetrahedral rather than a spherical cavity (DOI: 10.1126/science.1175313 ), into which another but much smaller tetrahedral molecule is fitted. The small molecule is P4, in which each of the three valencies of the P atom is directed to a corner of the tetrahedron. The large molecule comprises four Fe atoms. These are each octahedrally coordinated with six ligand sites, three of which mimic the P atoms in also being directed towards the remaining three vertices of a tetrahedron.