Henry Rzepa's Blog Chemistry with a twist

August 25, 2018

Organocatalytic cyclopropanation of an enal: (computational) mechanistic understanding.

Symbiosis between computation and experiment is increasingly evident in pedagogic journals such as J. Chemical Education. Thus an example of original laboratory experiments[1],[2] that later became twinned with a computational counterpart.[3] So when I spotted this recent lab experiment[4] I felt another twinning approaching.



  1. A. Burke, P. Dillon, K. Martin, and T.W. Hanks, "Catalytic Asymmetric Epoxidation Using a Fructose-Derived Catalyst", Journal of Chemical Education, vol. 77, pp. 271, 2000. http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/ed077p271
  2. J. Hanson, "Synthesis and Use of Jacobsen's Catalyst: Enantioselective Epoxidation in the Introductory Organic Laboratory", Journal of Chemical Education, vol. 78, pp. 1266, 2001. http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/ed078p1266
  3. K.K.(. Hii, H.S. Rzepa, and E.H. Smith, "Asymmetric Epoxidation: A Twinned Laboratory and Molecular Modeling Experiment for Upper-Level Organic Chemistry Students", Journal of Chemical Education, vol. 92, pp. 1385-1389, 2015. http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/ed500398e
  4. M. Meazza, A. Kowalczuk, S. Watkins, S. Holland, T.A. Logothetis, and R. Rios, "Organocatalytic Cyclopropanation of (E)-Dec-2-enal: Synthesis, Spectral Analysis and Mechanistic Understanding", Journal of Chemical Education, vol. 95, pp. 1832-1839, 2018. http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acs.jchemed.7b00566

November 28, 2015

A tutorial problem in stereoelectronic control. A Grob alternative to the Tiffeneau-Demjanov rearrangement?

In answering tutorial problems, students often need skills in deciding how much time to spend on explaining what does not happen, as well as what does. Here I explore alternatives to the mechanism outlined in the previous post to see what computation has to say about what does (or might) not happen.


October 9, 2014

WATOC2014 Conference report. Emergent themes.

This second report highlights two “themes”, or common ideas that seem to emerge spontaneously from diversely different talks. Most conferences do have them.


April 22, 2012

Stereoselectivities of Proline-Catalyzed Asymmetric Intermolecular Aldol Reactions.

Astronomers who discover an asteroid get to name it, mathematicians have theorems named after them. Synthetic chemists get to name molecules (Hector’s base and Meldrum’s acid spring to mind) and reactions between them. What do computational chemists get to name? Transition states! One of the most famous of recent years is the Houk-List.


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