This might be seen as cranking a handle by producing yet more examples of acids ionised by a small number of water molecules. I justify it (probably only to myself) as an exercise in how a scientist might approach a problem, and how it linearly develops with time, not necessarily in the directions first envisaged. A conventional scientific narrative published in a conventional journal tells the story often with the benefit of hindsight, but rarely how the project actually unfolded chronologically.‡ So by devoting 7 posts to this, you can judge for yourself how my thoughts might have developed (and I am prepared to acknowledge this may only serve to show my ignorance).
Posts Tagged ‘Mt. Everest’
Climbers scale Mt. Everest, because its there, and chemists have their own version of this. Ever since G. N. Lewis introduced the concept of the electron-pair bond in 1916, the idea of a bond as having a formal bond-order has been seen as a useful way of thinking about molecules. The initial menagerie of single, double and triple formal bond orders (with a few half sizes) was extended in the 1960s to four, and in 2005 to five. Since then, something of a race has developed to produce the compound with the shortest quintuple bond. One of the candidates for this honour is shown below (2008, DOI: 10.1002/anie.200803859) which is a crystalline species (a few diatomics which exist in the gas phase are also candidates; for other reviews of the topic see 10.1038/nchem.359, 10.1021/ja905035f and 10.1246/cl.2009.1122).
Much like climbing Mt. Everest because its there, some hypothetical molecules are just too tantalizing for chemists to resist attempting a synthesis. Thus in 1964, Edgar Heilbronner speculated on whether a conjugated annulene ring might be twistable into a Möbius strip. It was essentially a fun thing to try to do, rather than the effort being based on some anticipated (and useful) property it might have. If you read the original article (rumour has it the idea arose during a lunchtime conversation, and the manuscript was completed by the next day), you will notice one aspect of these molecules that is curious by its absence. There is no mention (10.1016/S0040-4039(01)89474-0) that such Möbius systems will be chiral. By their nature, they have only axes of symmetry, and no planes of symmetry, and such molecules therefore cannot be superimposed upon their mirror image; as is required of a chiral system (for a discussion of the origins and etymology of the term, see 10.1002/chir.20699).