Posts Tagged ‘Jack Dunitz’

Intermolecular atom-atom bonds in crystals? The O…O case.

Saturday, July 25th, 2015
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I recently followed this bloggers trail; link1link2 to arrive at this delightful short commentary on atom-atom bonds in crystals[1] by Jack Dunitz. Here he discusses that age-old question (to chemists), what is a bond? Even almost 100 years after Gilbert Lewis’ famous analysis,[2] we continue to ponder this question. Indeed, quite a debate on this topic broke out in a recent post here. My eye was caught by one example in Jack's article: "The close stacking of planar anions, as occurs in salts of croconic acid …far from producing a lowering of the crystal energy, this stacking interaction in itself leads to an increase by several thousand kJ mol−1 arising from Coulombic repulsion between the doubly negatively charged anions" I thought I might explore this point a bit further in this post.



  1. J.D. Dunitz, "Intermolecular atom–atom bonds in crystals?", IUCrJ, vol. 2, pp. 157-158, 2015.
  2. G.N. Lewis, "THE ATOM AND THE MOLECULE.", Journal of the American Chemical Society, vol. 38, pp. 762-785, 1916.

Why are α-helices in proteins mostly right handed?

Saturday, April 9th, 2011
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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.