Posts Tagged ‘potential energy surface’
In a comment appended to an earlier post, I mused about the magnitude of the force constant relating to the interconversion between a classical and a non-classical structure for the norbornyl cation. Most calculations indicate the force constant for an “isolated” symmetrical cation is +ve, which means it is a true minimum and not a transition state for a [1,2] shift. The latter would have been required if the species equilibrated between two classical carbocations. I then pondered what might happen to both the magnitude and the sign of this force constant if various layers of solvation and eventually a counter-ion were to be applied to the molecule, so that a bridge of sorts between the different states of solid crystals, superacid and aqueous solutions might be built.
The potential energy surface for a molecule tells us about how it might react. These surfaces have been charted for thousands of reactions using quantum mechanics, and their basic features are thought to be well understood. Coming across an entirely new feature is rare. So what do you make of the following?
It was three years ago that I first blogged on the topic of the Sn2 reaction. Matthias Bickelhaupt had suggested that the Sn2 reaction involving displacement at a carbon atom was an anomaly; the true behaviour was in fact exhibited by the next element down in the series, silicon. The pentacoordinate species shown below (X=Si) is naturally a minimum, and the fact that for carbon (X=C) one gets instead a transition state resulting in a significant thermal barrier (~ 20 kcal/mol) was a manifestation of abnormal behaviour.
organic chemistry. It does not look like much, but this small little molecule brought us ferrocene, fluxional NMR, aromatic anions and valley-ridge inflexion points. You might not have heard of this last one, but in fact I mentioned the phenomenon in my post on nitrosobenzene. As for being at a crossroads, more like a Y-junction. Let me explain why.