Archive for the ‘pericyclic’ Category

Refactoring my lecture notes on pericyclic reactions.

Sunday, December 29th, 2013

When I first started giving lectures to students, it was the students themselves that acted as human photocopiers, faithfully trying to duplicate what I was embossing on the lecture theatre blackboard with chalk. How times have changed! Here I thought I might summarise my latest efforts to refactor the material I deliver in one lecture course on pericyclic reactions (and because my notes have always been open, you can view them yourself if you wish).

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Avoided (pericyclic) anti-aromaticity: Reactions of t-butyl-hydroxycarbene.

Wednesday, November 13th, 2013

Not long ago, I described a cyclic carbene in which elevating the carbene lone pair into a π-system transformed it from a formally 4n-antiaromatic π-cycle into a 4n+2 aromatic π-cycle. From an entirely different area of chemistry, another example of this behaviour emerges; Schreiner’s[1] trapping and reactions of t-butyl-hydroxycarbene, as described on Steve Bachrach’s blog. A point I often make is that chemistry is all about connections, and so here I will discuss such a connection.schreiner

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References

  1. D. Ley, D. Gerbig, and P.R. Schreiner, "Tunneling control of chemical reactions: C–H insertion versus H-tunneling in tert-butylhydroxycarbene", Chem. Sci., vol. 4, pp. 677-684, 2013. http://dx.doi.org/10.1039/C2SC21555A

Mechanism of the Boekelheide rearrangement

Wednesday, June 26th, 2013

A reader asked me about the mechanism of the reaction of 2-picoline N-oxide with acetic anhydride to give 2-acetoxymethylpyridine (the Boekelheide Rearrangement[1]). He wrote ” I don’t understand why the system should prefer to go via fragmentation-recombination (… the evidence being that oxygen labelling shows scrambling) when there is an easy concerted pathway available (… a [3,3]sigmatropic shift). Furthermore, is it possible for two pathways to co-exist?” Here is how computation might enlighten us.

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References

  1. A. Massaro, A. Mordini, A. Mingardi, J. Klein, and D. Andreotti, "A New Sequential Intramolecular Cyclization Based on the Boekelheide Rearrangement", European Journal of Organic Chemistry, vol. 2011, pp. 271-279, 2010. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ejoc.201000936

Woodward’s symmetry considerations applied to electrocyclic reactions.

Monday, May 20th, 2013

Sometimes the originators of seminal theories in chemistry write a personal and anecdotal account of their work. Niels Bohr[1] was one such and four decades later Robert Woodward wrote “The conservation of orbital symmetry” (Chem. Soc. Special Publications (Aromaticity), 1967, 21, 217-249; it is not online and so no doi can be given). Much interesting chemistry is described there, but (like Bohr in his article), Woodward lists no citations at the end, merely giving attributions by name. Thus the following chemistry (p 236 of this article) is attributed to a Professor Fonken, and goes as follows (excluding the structure in red):

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References

  1. N. Bohr, "Der Bau der Atome und die physikalischen und chemischen Eigenschaften der Elemente", Zeitschrift f�r Physik, vol. 9, pp. 1-67, 1922. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/BF01326955