Posts Tagged ‘conformational analysis’

Sharpless epoxidation, enantioselectivity and conformational analysis.

Thursday, January 3rd, 2013

I return to this reaction one more time. Trying to explain why it is enantioselective for the epoxide product poses peculiar difficulties. Most of the substituents can adopt one of several conformations, and some exploration of this conformational space is needed.


Ring-flipping in cyclohexane in a different light

Friday, October 12th, 2012

The conformational analysis of cyclohexane is a mainstay of organic chemistry. Is there anything new that can be said about it? Let us start with the diagram below:


More joining up of pieces. Stereocontrol in the ring opening of cyclopropenes.

Thursday, July 12th, 2012

Years ago, I was travelling from Cambridge to London on a train. I found myself sitting next to a chemist, and (as chemists do), he scribbled the following on a piece of paper. When I got to work the next day Vera (my student) was unleashed on the problem, and our thoughts were published[1]. That was then.



  1. M.S. Baird, J.R. Al Dulayymi, H.S. Rzepa, and V. Thoss, "An unusual example of stereoelectronic control in the ring opening of 3,3-disubstituted 1,2-dichlorocyclopropenes", Journal of the Chemical Society, Chemical Communications, pp. 1323, 1992.

E2 elimination vs ring contraction: anti-periplanarity in action.

Monday, February 20th, 2012

The anti-periplanar principle permeates organic reactivity. Here I pick up on an example of the antiperiplanar E2 elimination (below, blue) by comparing it to a competing reaction involving a [1,2] antiperiplanar migration (red). (more…)

An exothermic E2 elimination: an unusual intrinsic reaction coordinate.

Monday, February 6th, 2012

The previous post explored why E2 elimination reactions occur with an antiperiplanar geometry for the transition state. Here I have tweaked the initial reactant to make the overall reaction exothermic rather than endothermic as it was before. The change is startling.


An orbital analysis of the stereochemistry of the E2 elimination reaction

Saturday, February 4th, 2012

The so-called E2 elimination mechanism is another one of those mainstays of organic chemistry. It is important because it introduces the principle that anti-periplanarity of the reacting atoms is favoured over other orientations such as the syn-periplanar form; Barton used this principle to great effect in developing the theory of conformational analysis. Here I explore its origins. (more…)

Under the hood of a nano car: the chemistry behind a molecular motor.

Saturday, November 19th, 2011

The world’s smallest nano car was recently driven a distance of 6nm along a copper track. When I saw this, I thought it might be interesting to go under the hood and try to explain what makes its engine tick and its fuel work. (more…)

Driving the smallest car ever made: a chemical perspective.

Thursday, November 10th, 2011

Fascination with nano-objects, molecules which resemble every day devices, is increasing. Thus the world’s smallest car has just been built[1]. The mechanics of such a device can often be understood in terms of chemical concepts taught to most students. So I thought I would have a go at this one!



  1. T. Kudernac, N. Ruangsupapichat, M. Parschau, B. Maciá, N. Katsonis, S.R. Harutyunyan, K. Ernst, and B.L. Feringa, "Electrically driven directional motion of a four-wheeled molecule on a metal surface", Nature, vol. 479, pp. 208-211, 2011.

Spotting the unexpected. Anomeric effects involving alkenes?

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011

How one might go about answering the question: do alkenes promote anomeric effects? A search of chemical abstracts does not appear to cite any examples (I may have missed them of course, since it depends very much on the terminology you use, and new effects may not yet have any agreed terminology) and a recent excellent review of hyperconjugation does not mention it. Here I show how one might provide an answer.


Atropisomerism in Taxol. An apparently simple bond rotation?

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011

My previous post introduced the interesting guts of taxol. Two different isomers can exist, and these are called atropisomers; one has the carbonyl group pointing up, the other down. The barrier to their interconversion in this case is generated by a rotation about the two single bonds connecting the carbonyl group to the rest of the molecule. Introductory chemistry tells us that the barrier for rotation about such single bonds is low (i.e. fast at room temperature). But is that true here?