Henry Rzepa's Blog Chemistry with a twist

April 1, 2019

Impossible molecules.

Members of the chemical FAIR data community have just met in Orlando (with help from the NSF, the American National Science Foundation) to discuss how such data is progressing in chemistry. There are a lot of themes converging at the moment. Thus this article[1] extolls the virtues of having raw NMR data available in natural product research, to which we added that such raw data should also be made FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable) by virtue of adding rich metadata and then properly registering it so that it can be searched. These themes are combined in another article which made a recent appearance.[2]



  1. J.B. McAlpine, S. Chen, A. Kutateladze, J.B. MacMillan, G. Appendino, A. Barison, M.A. Beniddir, M.W. Biavatti, S. Bluml, A. Boufridi, M.S. Butler, R.J. Capon, Y.H. Choi, D. Coppage, P. Crews, M.T. Crimmins, M. Csete, P. Dewapriya, J.M. Egan, M.J. Garson, G. Genta-Jouve, W.H. Gerwick, H. Gross, M.K. Harper, P. Hermanto, J.M. Hook, L. Hunter, D. Jeannerat, N. Ji, T.A. Johnson, D.G.I. Kingston, H. Koshino, H. Lee, G. Lewin, J. Li, R.G. Linington, M. Liu, K.L. McPhail, T.F. Molinski, B.S. Moore, J. Nam, R.P. Neupane, M. Niemitz, J. Nuzillard, N.H. Oberlies, F.M.M. Ocampos, G. Pan, R.J. Quinn, D.S. Reddy, J. Renault, J. Rivera-Chávez, W. Robien, C.M. Saunders, T.J. Schmidt, C. Seger, B. Shen, C. Steinbeck, H. Stuppner, S. Sturm, O. Taglialatela-Scafati, D.J. Tantillo, R. Verpoorte, B. Wang, C.M. Williams, P.G. Williams, J. Wist, J. Yue, C. Zhang, Z. Xu, C. Simmler, D.C. Lankin, J. Bisson, and G.F. Pauli, "The value of universally available raw NMR data for transparency, reproducibility, and integrity in natural product research", Natural Product Reports, vol. 36, pp. 35-107, 2019. http://dx.doi.org/10.1039/c7np00064b
  2. A. Barba, S. Dominguez, C. Cobas, D.P. Martinsen, C. Romain, H.S. Rzepa, and F. Seoane, "Workflows Allowing Creation of Journal Article Supporting Information and Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable (FAIR)-Enabled Publication of Spectroscopic Data", ACS Omega, vol. 4, pp. 3280-3286, 2019. http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acsomega.8b03005

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

April 15, 2017

π-Facial hydrogen bonds to alkenes (revisited): how close can an acidic hydrogen approach?

Back in the early 1990s, we first discovered the delights of searching crystal structures for unusual bonding features.[1] One of the first cases was a search for hydrogen bonds formed to the π-faces of alkenes and alkynes. In those days the CSD database of crystal structures was a lot smaller (<80,000 structures; it’s now ten times larger) and the search software less powerful. So here is an update. 



  1. H.S. Rzepa, M.H. Smith, and M.L. Webb, "A crystallographic AM1 and PM3 SCF-MO investigation of strong OH ⋯π-alkene and alkyne hydrogen bonding interactions", J. Chem. Soc., Perkin Trans. 2, pp. 703-707, 1994. http://dx.doi.org/10.1039/P29940000703

April 13, 2017

The π-π stacking of aromatic rings: what is their closest parallel approach?

Layer stacking in structures such as graphite is well-studied. The separation between the π-π planes is ~3.35Å, which is close to twice the estimated van der Waals (vdW) radius of carbon (1.7Å). But how much closer could such layers get, given that many other types of relatively weak interaction such as hydrogen bonding can contract the vdW distance sum by up to ~0.8Å or even more? This question was prompted by the separation calculated for the ion-pair cyclopropenium cyclopentadienide (~2.6-2.8Å).


December 31, 2016

The “hydrogen bond”; its early history.

My holiday reading has been Derek Lowe’s excellent Chemistry Book setting out 250 milestones in chemistry, organised by year. An entry for 1920 entitled hydrogen bonding seemed worth exploring in more detail here.


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