The geometry of cyclo-octatetraenes differs fundamentally from the lower homologue benzene in exhibiting slow (nuclear) valence bond isomerism rather than rapid (electronic) bond-equalising resonance. In 1992 Anderson and Kirsch exploited this property to describe a simple molecular balance for estimating how two alkyl substituents on the ring might interact via the (currently very topical) mechanism of dispersion (induced-dipole-induced-dipole) attractions. These electron correlation effects are exceptionally difficult to model using formal quantum mechanics and are nowadays normally replaced by more empirical functions such as Grimme's D3BJ correction. Here I explore aspects of how the small molecule below might be used to investigate the accuracy of such estimates of dispersion energies.
J.E. Anderson, and P.A. Kirsch, "Structural equilibria determined by attractive steric interactions. 1,6-Dialkylcyclooctatetraenes and their bond-shift and ring inversion investigated by dynamic NMR spectroscopy and molecular mechanics calculations", Journal of the Chemical Society, Perkin Transactions 2, pp. 1951, 1992. http://dx.doi.org/10.1039/P29920001951
S. Grimme, S. Ehrlich, and L. Goerigk, "Effect of the damping function in dispersion corrected density functional theory", Journal of Computational Chemistry, vol. 32, pp. 1456-1465, 2011. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jcc.21759