Posts Tagged ‘energy’

Hydronium hydroxide: the why of pH 7.

Thursday, April 14th, 2016

Ammonium hydroxide (NH4+…OH) can be characterised quantum mechanically when stabilised by water bridges connecting the ion-pairs. It is a small step from there to hydronium hydroxide, or H3O+…OH. The measured concentrations [H3O+] ≡ [OH] give rise of course to the well-known pH 7 of pure water, and converting this ionization constant to a free energy indicates that the solvated ion-pair must be some ~19.1 kcal/mol higher in free energy than water itself. So can a quantum calculation reproduce pH7 for water?

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Ways to encourage water to protonate an amine: superbasing.

Friday, April 8th, 2016

Previously, I looked at models of how ammonia could be protonated by water to form ammonium hydroxide. The energetic outcome of my model matched the known equilbrium in water as favouring the unprotonated form (pKb ~4.75). I add here two amines for which R=Me3Si and R=CN. The idea is that the first will assist nitrogen protonation by stabilising the positive centre and the second will act in the opposite sense; an exploration if you like of how one might go about computationally designing a non-steric superbasic amine that becomes predominantly protonated when exposed to water (pKb <1) and is thus more basic than hydroxide anion in this medium.

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Real hypervalency in a small molecule.

Sunday, February 21st, 2016

Hypervalency is defined as a molecule that contains one or more main group elements formally bearing more than eight  electrons in their  valence shell. One example of a molecule so characterised was CLi6[1] where the description "“carbon can expand its octet of electrons to form this relatively stable molecule“ was used. Yet, in this latter case, the octet expansion is in fact an illusion, as indeed are many examples that are cited. The octet shell remains resolutely un-expanded. Here I will explore the tiny molecule CH3F2- where two extra electrons have been added to fluoromethane.

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References

  1. H. Kudo, "Observation of hypervalent CLi6 by Knudsen-effusion mass spectrometry", Nature, vol. 355, pp. 432-434, 1992. http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/355432a0

Bond stretch isomerism. Did this idea first surface 100 years ago?

Tuesday, February 9th, 2016

The phenomenon of bond stretch isomerism, two isomers of a compound differing predominantly in just one bond length, is one of those chemical concepts that wax and occasionally wane.[1] Here I explore such isomerism for the elements Ge, Sn and Pb.

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References

  1. J.A. Labinger, "Bond-stretch isomerism: a case study of a quiet controversy", Comptes Rendus Chimie, vol. 5, pp. 235-244, 2002. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S1631-0748(02)01380-2

A molecular balance for dispersion energy?

Sunday, February 7th, 2016

The geometry of cyclo-octatetraenes differs fundamentally from the lower homologue benzene in exhibiting slow (nuclear) valence bond isomerism rather than rapid (electronic) bond-equalising resonance. In 1992 Anderson and Kirsch[1] exploited this property to describe a simple molecular balance for estimating how two alkyl substituents on the ring might interact via the (currently very topical) mechanism of dispersion (induced-dipole-induced-dipole) attractions. These electron correlation effects are exceptionally difficult to model using formal quantum mechanics and are nowadays normally replaced by more empirical functions such as Grimme's D3BJ correction.[2] Here I explore aspects of how the small molecule below might be used to investigate the accuracy of such estimates of dispersion energies.

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References

  1. J.E. Anderson, and P.A. Kirsch, "Structural equilibria determined by attractive steric interactions. 1,6-Dialkylcyclooctatetraenes and their bond-shift and ring inversion investigated by dynamic NMR spectroscopy and molecular mechanics calculations", Journal of the Chemical Society, Perkin Transactions 2, pp. 1951, 1992. http://dx.doi.org/10.1039/P29920001951
  2. S. Grimme, S. Ehrlich, and L. Goerigk, "Effect of the damping function in dispersion corrected density functional theory", Journal of Computational Chemistry, vol. 32, pp. 1456-1465, 2011. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jcc.21759

Quintuple bonds: resurfaced.

Sunday, January 31st, 2016

Six years ago, I posted on the nature of a then recently reported[1] Cr-Cr quintuple bond. The topic resurfaced as part of the discussion on a more recent post on NSF3, and a sub-topic on the nature of the higher order bonding in C2. The comment made a connection between that discussion and the Cr-Cr bond alluded to above. I responded briefly to that comment, but because I want to include 3D rotatable surfaces, I expand the discussion here and not in the comment.

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References

  1. C. Hsu, J. Yu, C. Yen, G. Lee, Y. Wang, and Y. Tsai, "Quintuply-Bonded Dichromium(I) Complexes Featuring Metal-Metal Bond Lengths of 1.74 Å", Angewandte Chemie International Edition, vol. 47, pp. 9933-9936, 2008. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/anie.200803859

I’ve started so I’ll finish. Mechanism and kinetic isotope effects for protiodecarboxylation of indoles.

Saturday, January 2nd, 2016

Another mechanistic study we started in 1972[1] is here 40+ years on subjected to quantum mechanical scrutiny.

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References

  1. B.C. Challis, and H.S. Rzepa, "Heteroaromatic hydrogen exchange reactions. Part 9. Acid catalysed decarboxylation of indole-3-carboxylic acids", Journal of the Chemical Society, Perkin Transactions 2, pp. 281, 1977. http://dx.doi.org/10.1039/P29770000281

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

Saturday, November 28th, 2015

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.

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A tutorial problem in stereoelectronic control. The Tiffeneau-Demjanov rearrangement as part of a prostaglandin synthesis.

Monday, November 23rd, 2015

This reaction emerged a few years ago (thanks Alan!) as a tutorial problem in organic chemistry, in which students had to devise a mechanism for the reaction and use this to predict the stereochemical outcome at the two chiral centres indicated with *.  It originates in a brief report from R. B. Woodward’s group in 1973 describing a prostaglandin synthesis,[1] the stereochemical outcome being crucial. Here I take a look at this mechanism using computation.

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References

  1. R.B. Woodward, J. Gosteli, I. Ernest, R.J. Friary, G. Nestler, H. Raman, R. Sitrin, C. Suter, and J.K. Whitesell, "Novel synthesis of prostaglandin F2.alpha.", Journal of the American Chemical Society, vol. 95, pp. 6853-6855, 1973. http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/ja00801a066

The roles of water in the hydrolysis of an acetal.

Wednesday, November 18th, 2015

In the previous post, I pondered how a substituent (X below) might act to slow down the hydrolysis of an acetal. Here I extend that by probing the role of water molecules in the mechanism of acetal hydrolysis.

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