Posts Tagged ‘higher energy’

An unusual [1,6] shift in homotropylium cation exhibiting zones of aromaticity.

Tuesday, August 12th, 2014

One thing leads to another. Thus in the previous post, I described a thermal pericyclic reaction that appears to exhibit two transition states resulting in two different stereochemical outcomes. I noted that another such reaction appeared to be a [1,6] carousel migration in homotropylium cation,[1] where transition states for both retention and inversion of the configuration of the migrating group (respectively formally allowed and forbidden) were reported (scheme below). Here I explore this system further. homotropylium Firstly, the pathway leading to inversion.[2] The reaction path (ωB97XD/6-311G(d,p)/SCRF=chloroform) has got a very odd (table-top mountain) shape, whereby the region of the transition state (IRC = 0.0) is very flat, and the region close to reactant and (identical) product is very steep. The gradient norm shows this best, with sharp spikes at IRC ± 4.2. Something clearly is happening here to cause this behaviour. Before moving on to analyze this, I want you first to observe the methyl groups below. Note how one of them rotates at the start of the process, and the other at the end. I have elsewhere called this behaviour the methyl flag, and it is due to stereoelectronic re-alignments of the C-H groups accompanying the changes in the conjugated array. htropa htrop htropG The homotropylium cation is said to be homoaromatic, indicating that cyclic conjugation can be maintained across a ring in which the σ framework is interrupted at one point. A NICS probe placed at the ring critical point of this molecule reveals a chemical shift of -11.3 ppm[3], very similar to eg that obtained for benzene itself. The three highest doubly occupied NBOs (below) show two normal π-type orbitals and one rather different one that spans the homo-bond (the MOs, before you ask, are a bit of a mess, with lots of mixed contributions from other parts of the σ framework).



  1. A.M. Genaev, G.E. Sal’nikov, and V.G. Shubin, "Energy barriers to carousel rearrangements of carbocations: Quantum-chemical calculations vs. experiment", Russian Journal of Organic Chemistry, vol. 43, pp. 1134-1138, 2007.
  2. Henry S. Rzepa., "Gaussian Job Archive for C10H13(1+)", 2014.
  3. Henry S. Rzepa., "Gaussian Job Archive for C10H13(1+)", 2014.

A connected world (journals and blogs): The benzene dication.

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

Science is rarely about a totally new observation or rationalisation, it is much more about making connections between known facts, and perhaps using these connections to extrapolate to new areas (building on the shoulders of giants, etc). So here I chart one example of such connectivity over a period of six years.


The mechanism of the Benzidine rearrangement.

Sunday, January 6th, 2013

The benzidine rearrangement is claimed to be an example of the quite rare [5,5] sigmatropic migration[1], which is a ten-electron homologation of the very common [3,3] sigmatropic reaction (e.g. the Cope or Claisen). Some benzidine rearrangements are indeed thought to go through the [3,3] route[2]. The topic has been reviewed here[3].



  1. H.J. Shine, K.H. Park, M.L. Brownawell, and J. San Filippo, "Benzidine rearrangements. 19. The concerted nature of the one-proton rearrangement of 2,2'-dimethoxyhydrazobenzene", J. Am. Chem. Soc., vol. 106, pp. 7077-7082, 1984.
  2. H.J. Shine, L. Kupczyk-Subotkowska, and W. Subotkowski, "Heavy-atom kinetic isotope effects in the acid-catalyzed rearrangement of N-2-naphthyl-N'-phenylhydrazine. Rearrangement is shown to be a concerted process", J. Am. Chem. Soc., vol. 107, pp. 6674-6678, 1985.
  3. H.J. Shine, "Reflections on the ?-complex theory of benzidine rearrangements", Journal of Physical Organic Chemistry, vol. 2, pp. 491-506, 1989.

Shorter is higher: the strange case of diberyllium.

Friday, January 21st, 2011

Much of chemistry is about bonds, but sometimes it can also be about anti-bonds. It is also true that the simplest of molecules can have quite subtle properties. Thus most undergraduate courses in chemistry deal with how to describe the bonding in the diatomics of the first row of the periodic table. Often, only the series C2 to F2 is covered, so as to take into account the paramagnetism of dioxygen, and the triple bonded nature of dinitrogen (but never mentioning the strongest bond in the universe!). Rarely is diberyllium mentioned,  and yet by its strangeness, it can also teach us a lot of chemistry.


Longer is stronger.

Saturday, June 6th, 2009

The iconic diagram below represents a cornerstone of organic chemistry. Generations of chemists have learnt early on in their studies of the subject that these two representations of where the electron pairs in benzene might be located (formally called electronic resonance or valence bond forms) each contribute ~50% to the overall wavefunction, and that the real electronic description is in effect an average of these two (that is the implied meaning of the double headed arrow). This means that the six C-C bonds in benzene must all be of equal length. The diagrams, everyone knows, do not mean that benzene has three short and three long C-C bonds.