Posts Tagged ‘dielectric’

The mechanism of the Birch reduction. Part 2: a transition state model.

Monday, December 3rd, 2012

I promised that the follow-up to on the topic of Birch reduction would focus on the proton transfer reaction between the radical anion of anisole and a proton source, as part of analysing whether the mechanistic pathway proceeds O or M.

(more…)

The mechanism of the Birch reduction. Part 1: reduction of anisole.

Saturday, December 1st, 2012

The Birch reduction is a classic method for partially reducing e.g. aryl ethers using electrons (from sodium dissolved in ammonia) as the reductant rather than e.g. dihydrogen. As happens occasionally in chemistry, a long debate broke out over the two alternative mechanisms labelled O (for ortho protonation of the initial radical anion intermediate) or M (for meta protonation). Text books seem to have settled down of late in favour of O. Here I take a look at the issue myself.

(more…)

Dynamic effects in nucleophilic substitution at trigonal carbon.

Monday, July 16th, 2012

Singleton and co-workers have produced some wonderful work showing how dynamic effects and not just transition states can control the outcome of reactions. Steve Bachrach’s blog contains many examples, including this recent one.

(more…)

Why are α-helices in proteins mostly right handed?

Saturday, April 9th, 2011

Understanding why and how proteins fold continues to be a grand challenge in science. I have described how Wrinch in 1936 made a bold proposal for the mechanism, which however flew in the face of much of then known chemistry. Linus Pauling took most of the credit (and a Nobel prize) when in a famous paper in 1951 he suggested a mechanism that involved (inter alia) the formation of what he termed α-helices. Jack Dunitz in 2001 wrote a must-read article on the topic of “Pauling’s Left-handed α-helix” (it is now known to be right handed).  I thought I would revisit this famous example with a calculation of my own and here I have used the ωB97XD/6-311G(d,p) DFT procedure to calculate some of the energy components of a small helix comprising (ala)6 in both left and right handed form.

(more…)

Do electrons prefer to move in packs of 4, 6 or 8 during proton exchange in a calixarene?

Friday, January 7th, 2011

This story starts with a calixarene, a molecule (suitably adorned with substituents) frequently used as a host to entrap a guest and perchance make the guest do something interesting. Such a calixarene was at the heart of a recent story where an attempt was made to induce it to capture cyclobutadiene in its cavity.

(more…)