Posts Tagged ‘free energy barrier’

Allotropic halogens.

Sunday, April 26th, 2015
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Allotropes are differing structural forms of the elements. The best known example is that of carbon, which comes as diamond and graphite, along with the relatively recently discovered fullerenes and now graphenes. Here I ponder whether any of the halogens can have allotropes.

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The mechanism of borohydride reductions. Part 1: ethanal.

Sunday, April 12th, 2015
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Sodium borohydride is the tamer cousin of lithium aluminium hydride (LAH). It is used in aqueous solution to e.g. reduce aldehydes and ketones, but it leaves acids, amides and esters alone. Here I start an exploration of why it is such a different reducing agent.
BH4

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A computed mechanistic pathway for the formation of an amide from an acid and an amine in non-polar solution.

Wednesday, November 12th, 2014
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In London, one has the pleasures of attending occasional one day meetings at the Burlington House, home of the Royal Society of Chemistry. On November 5th this year, there was an excellent meeting on the topic of Challenges in Catalysisand you can see the speakers and (some of) their slides here. One talk on the topic of Direct amide formation – the issues, the art, the industrial application by Dave Jackson caught my interest. He asked whether an amide could be formed directly from a carboxylic acid and an amine without the intervention of an explicit catalyst. The answer involved noting that the carboxylic acid was itself a catalyst in the process, and a full mechanistic exploration of this aspect can be found in an article published in collaboration with Andy Whiting’s group at Durham.[1] My after-thoughts in the pub centered around the recollection that I had written some blog posts about the reaction between hydroxylamine and propanone. Might there be any similarity between the two mechanisms?

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References

  1. H. Charville, D.A. Jackson, G. Hodges, A. Whiting, and M.R. Wilson, "The Uncatalyzed Direct Amide Formation Reaction - Mechanism Studies and the Key Role of Carboxylic Acid H-Bonding", European Journal of Organic Chemistry, vol. 2011, pp. 5981-5990, 2011. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ejoc.201100714

Benzene. As you have never seen it represented before!

Sunday, May 18th, 2014
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Continuing my european visits, here are two photos from Bonn. First, a word about how the representation of benzene evolved, attributed to Kekulé.

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Caesium trifluoride: could it be made?

Saturday, November 23rd, 2013
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Mercury (IV) tetrafluoride attracted much interest when it was reported in 2007[1] as the first instance of the metal being induced to act as a proper transition element (utilising d-electrons for bonding) rather than a post-transition main group metal (utilising just s-electrons) for which the HgF2 dihalide would be more normal (“Is mercury now a transition element?”[2]). Perhaps this is the modern equivalent of transmutation! Well, now we have new speculation about how to induce the same sort of behaviour for caesium; might it form CsF3 (at high pressures) rather than the CsF we would be more familiar with.[3] Here I report some further calculations inspired by this report.

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References

  1. X. Wang, L. Andrews, S. Riedel, and M. Kaupp, "Mercury Is a Transition Metal: The First Experimental Evidence for HgF4", Angewandte Chemie International Edition, vol. 46, pp. 8371-8375, 2007. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/anie.200703710
  2. W.B. Jensen, "Is Mercury Now a Transition Element?", J. Chem. Educ., vol. 85, pp. 1182, 2008. http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/ed085p1182
  3. M. Miao, "Caesium in high oxidation states and as a p-block element", Nature Chemistry, vol. 5, pp. 846-852, 2013. http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nchem.1754

Mechanism of the Boekelheide rearrangement

Wednesday, June 26th, 2013
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A reader asked me about the mechanism of the reaction of 2-picoline N-oxide with acetic anhydride to give 2-acetoxymethylpyridine (the Boekelheide Rearrangement[1]). He wrote ” I don’t understand why the system should prefer to go via fragmentation-recombination (… the evidence being that oxygen labelling shows scrambling) when there is an easy concerted pathway available (… a [3,3]sigmatropic shift). Furthermore, is it possible for two pathways to co-exist?” Here is how computation might enlighten us.

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References

  1. A. Massaro, A. Mordini, A. Mingardi, J. Klein, and D. Andreotti, "A New Sequential Intramolecular Cyclization Based on the Boekelheide Rearrangement", European Journal of Organic Chemistry, vol. 2011, pp. 271-279, 2010. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ejoc.201000936

Another Woodward pericyclic example dissected: all is not what it seems.

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013
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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.

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Hidden intermediates in the benzidine rearrangement. The monoprotonated mechanism.

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013
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Eagle-eyed footnote readers might have spotted one at the bottom of the post on the benzidine rearrangement. I was comparing the N-N bond lengths in crystal structures of known diprotonated hydrazines (~1.45Å) with the computed N-N bond length at the start point of the intrinsic reaction coordinate for the [5,5] sigmatropic rearrangement of di-N-protonated diphenylhydrazine (the active species in the benzidine rearrangement itself), which was some 1Å longer. This post explores the implications of this oddity.

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

Monday, December 3rd, 2012
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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.

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Transition state models for Baldwin’s rules of ring closure.

Saturday, June 2nd, 2012
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The Baldwin rules for ring closure follow the earlier ones by Bürgi and Dunitz in stating the preferred angles of nucleophilic (and electrophilic) attack in bond forming reactions, and are as famous for the interest in their exceptions as for their adherence. Both sets of rules fundamentally explore the geometry of the transition states involved in the reaction, as reflected in the activation free energies. Previous posts exploring the transition states for well-known reactions have revealed that the 4th dimension (the timing of the bond formations/breakings) can often spring surprises. So this post will explore a typical Baldwin ring formation in the same way.

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