Posts Tagged ‘higher energy’

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.