Posts Tagged ‘Chemistry’

Hydrogen capture by boron: a crazy reaction path!

Thursday, September 21st, 2017
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A recent article reports, amongst other topics, a computationally modelled reaction involving the capture of molecular hydrogen using a substituted borane (X=N, Y=C).[1] The mechanism involves an initial equilibrium between React and Int1, followed by capture of the hydrogen by Int1 to form a 5-coordinate borane intermediate (Int2 below, as per Figure 11). This was followed by assistance from a proximate basic nitrogen to complete the hydrogen capture via a TS involving H-H cleavage. The forward free energy barrier to capture was ~11 kcal/mol and ~4 kcal/mol in the reverse direction (relative to the species labelled Int1), both suitably low for reversible hydrogen capture. Here I explore a simple variation to this fascinating reaction.

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References

  1. L. Li, M. Lei, Y. Xie, H.F. Schaefer, B. Chen, and R. Hoffmann, "Stabilizing a different cyclooctatetraene stereoisomer", Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol. 114, pp. 9803-9808, 2017. http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1709586114

The di-anion of dilithium (not the Star Trek variety): Another “Hyper-bond”?

Saturday, September 16th, 2017
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Early in 2011, I wrote about how the diatomic molecule Be2 might be persuaded to improve upon its normal unbound state (bond order ~zero) by a double electronic excitation to a strongly bound species. I yesterday updated this post with further suggestions and one of these inspired this follow-up.

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(another) WATOC 2017 report.

Tuesday, August 29th, 2017
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Another selection (based on my interests, I have to repeat) from WATOC 2017 in Munich.

  1. Odile Eisenstein gave a talk about predicted 13C chemical shifts in transition metal (and often transient) complexes, with the focus on metallacyclobutanes. These calculations include full spin-orbit/relativistic corrections, essential when the carbon is attached to an even slightly relativistic element. She noted that the 13C shifts of the carbons attached to the metal fall into two camps, those with δ ~+80 ppm and those with values around -8 ppm. These clusters are associated with quite different reactivities, and also seem to cluster according to the planarity or non-planarity of the 4-membered ring. There followed some very nice orbital explanations which I cannot reproduce here because my note taking was incomplete, including discussion of the anisotropy of the solid state spectra. A fascinating story, which I add to here in a minor aspect. Here is a plot of the geometries of the 52 metallacyclobutanes found in the Cambridge structure database. The 4-ring can be twisted by up to 60° around either of the C-C bonds in the ring, and rather less about the M-C bonds. There is a clear cluster (red spot) for entirely flat rings, and perhaps another at around 20° for bent ones, but of interest is that it does form something of a continuum. What is needed is to correlate these geometries with the observed 13C chemical shifts to see if the two sets of clusters match. I include this here because in part such a search can be done in “real-time” whilst the speaker is presenting, and can then be offered as part of the discussion afterwards. It did not happen here because I was chairing the meeting, and hence concentrating entirely on proceedings!

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Chemistry rich diagrams: do crystal structures carry spin information? Iron-di-imine complexes.

Sunday, June 18th, 2017
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The iron complex shown below forms the basis for many catalysts.[1] With iron, the catalytic behaviour very much depends on the spin-state of the molecule, which for the below can be either high (hextet) or medium (quartet) spin, with a possibility also of a low spin (doublet) state. Here I explore whether structural information in crystal structures can reflect such spin states.

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References

  1. M.P. Shaver, L.E.N. Allan, H.S. Rzepa, and V.C. Gibson, "Correlation of Metal Spin State with Catalytic Reactivity: Polymerizations Mediated by α-Diimine–Iron Complexes", Angewandte Chemie International Edition, vol. 45, pp. 1241-1244, 2006. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/anie.200502985

Tautomeric polymorphism.

Thursday, June 1st, 2017
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Conformational polymorphism occurs when a compound crystallises in two polymorphs differing only in the relative orientations of flexible groups (e.g. Ritonavir). At the Beilstein conference, Ian Bruno mentioned another type;  tautomeric polymorphism, where a compound can crystallise in two forms differing in the position of acidic protons. Here I explore three such examples.

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How does carbon dioxide coordinate to a metal?

Saturday, May 6th, 2017
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Mention carbon dioxide (CO2) to most chemists and its properties as a metal ligand are not the first aspect that springs to mind. Here thought I might take a look at how it might act as such.

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π-Facial hydrogen bonds to alkenes (revisited): how close can an acidic hydrogen approach?

Saturday, April 15th, 2017
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Back in the early 1990s, we first discovered the delights of searching crystal structures for unusual bonding features.[1] One of the first cases was a search for hydrogen bonds formed to the π-faces of alkenes and alkynes. In those days the CSD database of crystal structures was a lot smaller (<80,000 structures; it’s now ten times larger) and the search software less powerful. So here is an update. 

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References

  1. H.S. Rzepa, M.H. Smith, and M.L. Webb, "A crystallographic AM1 and PM3 SCF-MO investigation of strong OH ⋯π-alkene and alkyne hydrogen bonding interactions", J. Chem. Soc., Perkin Trans. 2, pp. 703-707, 1994. http://dx.doi.org/10.1039/P29940000703

The π-π stacking of aromatic rings: what is their closest parallel approach?

Thursday, April 13th, 2017
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Layer stacking in structures such as graphite is well-studied. The separation between the π-π planes is ~3.35Å, which is close to twice the estimated van der Waals (vdW) radius of carbon (1.7Å). But how much closer could such layers get, given that many other types of relatively weak interaction such as hydrogen bonding can contract the vdW distance sum by up to ~0.8Å or even more? This question was prompted by the separation calculated for the ion-pair cyclopropenium cyclopentadienide (~2.6-2.8Å).

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The conformation of carboxylic acids revealed.

Tuesday, April 11th, 2017
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Following my conformational exploration of enols, here is one about a much more common molecule, a carboxylic acid.

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Cyclopropenium cyclopentadienide: a strangely neutral ion-pair?

Sunday, April 9th, 2017
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Both the cyclopropenium cation and the cyclopentadienide anion are well-known 4n+2-type aromatic ions, but could the two together form an ion-pair?

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