Henry Rzepa's Blog Chemistry with a twist

March 24, 2019

The shortest known CF…HO hydrogen bond.

There is a predilection amongst chemists for collecting records; one common theme is the length of particular bonds, either the shortest or the longest. A particularly baffling type of bond is that between the very electronegative F atom and an acid hydrogen atom such as that in OH. Thus short C-N…HO hydrogen bonds are extremely common, as are C-O…HO. But F atoms in C-F bonds are largely thought to be inert to hydrogen bonding, as indicated by the use of fluorine in many pharmaceuticals as inert isosteres.[1] Here I do an up-to-date search of the CSD crystal structure database, which is now on the verge of accumulating 1 million entries, to see if any strong C-F…HO hydrogen bonding may have been recently discovered.



  1. S. Purser, P.R. Moore, S. Swallow, and V. Gouverneur, "Fluorine in medicinal chemistry", Chem. Soc. Rev., vol. 37, pp. 320-330, 2008. http://dx.doi.org/10.1039/B610213C

March 4, 2018

What are the highest bond indices for main group and transition group elements?

A bond index (BI) approximately measures the totals of the bond orders at any given atom in a molecule. Here I ponder what the maximum values might be for elements with filled valence shells.


November 27, 2017

Hypervalence and octet-expansion in trimethylene-λ6-sulfane and related species.

Previously: “Non-polar” species such as SeMe6, SMe6, ClMe3, ClMe5 all revealed interesting properties for the Se-C, S-C or Cl-C “single” bonds. The latter two examples in particular hinted at internal structures for these single bonds, as manifested by two ELF basins for some of the bonds. Here I take a look at the related molecule where a formal double bond between carbon and the central sulfur atom replacing the single-bond might also hint at octet expansions and hypervalence.


November 12, 2017

VSEPR Theory: Octet-busting or not with trimethyl chlorine, ClMe3.

A few years back, I took a look at the valence-shell electron pair repulsion approach to the geometry of chlorine trifluoride, ClF3 using so-called ELF basins to locate centroids for both the covalent F-Cl bond electrons and the chlorine lone-pair electrons. Whereas the original VSEPR theory talks about five “electron pairs” totalling an octet-busting ten electrons surrounding chlorine, the electron density-based ELF approach located only ~6.8e surrounding the central chlorine and no “octet-busting”. The remaining electrons occupied fluorine lone pairs rather than the shared Cl-F regions. Here I take a look at ClMe3, as induced by the analysis of SeMe6.


October 24, 2017

Elongating an N-B single bond is much easier than stretching a C-C single bond.

An N-B single bond is iso-electronic to a C-C single bond, as per below. So here is a simple question: what form does the distribution of the lengths of these two bonds take, as obtained from crystal structures? 


September 16, 2017

The di-anion of dilithium (not the Star Trek variety): Another “Hyper-bond”?

Early in 2011, I wrote about how the diatomic molecule Be2 might be persuaded to improve upon its normal unbound state (bond order ~zero) by a double electronic excitation to a strongly bound species. I yesterday updated this post with further suggestions and one of these inspired this follow-up.


September 6, 2017

Two new types in the chemical bonding zoo: exo-bonds and hyper-bonds?

The chemical bond zoo is relatively small (the bond being a somewhat fuzzy concept, I am not sure there is an actual count of occupants). So when two new candidates come along, it is worth taking notice. I have previously noted the Chemical Bonds at the 21st Century-2017: CB2017 Aachen conference, where both were discussed.


April 6, 2017

The conformation of enols: revealed and explained.

Enols are simple compounds with an OH group as a substituent on a C=C double bond and with a very distinct conformational preference for the OH group. Here I take a look at this preference as revealed by crystal structures, with the theoretical explanation.


March 25, 2017

First, hexacoordinate carbon – now pentacoordinate oxygen?

Filed under: Bond slam,Hypervalency — Tags: , , , , , — Henry Rzepa @ 5:28 pm

The previous post demonstrated the simple iso-electronic progression from six-coordinate carbon to five coordinate nitrogen. Here, a further progression to oxygen is investigated computationally.


March 10, 2017

George Olah and the norbornyl cation.

George Olah passed away on March 8th. He was part of the generation of scientists in the post-war 1950s who had access to chemical instrumentation that truly revolutionised chemistry. In particular he showed how the then newly available NMR spectroscopy illuminated structures of cations in solvents such “Magic acid“. The obituaries will probably mention his famous “feud” with H. C. Brown over the structure of the norbornyl cation (X=CH2+), implicated in the mechanism of many a solvolysis reaction that characterised the golden period of physical organic chemistry just before and after WWII. 


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