Posts Tagged ‘relative free energy’

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.


Modelling the geometry of unbranched alkanes.

Saturday, March 29th, 2014

By about C17H36, the geometry of “cold-isolated” unbranched saturated alkenes is supposed not to contain any fully anti-periplanar conformations. [1] Indeed, a (co-crystal) of C16H34 shows it to have two-gauche bends.[2]. Surprisingly, the longest linear alkane I was able to find a crystal structure for, C28H58 appears to be fully extended[3],[4] (an early report of a low quality structure for C36H74[5] also appears to show it as linear). Here I explore how standard DFT theories cope with these structures.



  1. N.O.B. Lüttschwager, T.N. Wassermann, R.A. Mata, and M.A. Suhm, "The Last Globally Stable Extended Alkane", Angewandte Chemie International Edition, vol. 52, pp. 463-466, 2012.
  2. N. Cocherel, C. Poriel, J. Rault‐Berthelot, F. Barrière, N. Audebrand, A. Slawin, and L. Vignau, "New 3π‐2Spiro Ladder‐Type Phenylene Materials: Synthesis, Physicochemical Properties and Applications in OLEDs", Chemistry – A European Journal, vol. 14, pp. 11328-11342, 2008.
  3. S.C. Nyburg, and A.R. Gerson, "Crystallography of the even n-alkanes: structure of C20H42", Acta Crystallographica Section B Structural Science, vol. 48, pp. 103-106, 1992.
  4. R. Boistelle, B. Simon, and G. Pèpe, "Polytypic structures of n-C28H58 (octacosane) and n-C36H74 (hexatriacontane)", Acta Crystallographica Section B Structural Crystallography and Crystal Chemistry, vol. 32, pp. 1240-1243, 1976.
  5. H.M.M. Shearer, and V. Vand, "The crystal structure of the monoclinic form of n-hexatriacontant", Acta Crystallographica, vol. 9, pp. 379-384, 1956.

The Cyclol Hypothesis for protein structure: castles in the air.

Monday, April 4th, 2011

Most scientific theories emerge slowly, over decades, but others emerge fully formed virtually overnight as it were (think Einstein in 1905). A third category is the supernova type, burning brightly for a short while, but then vanishing (almost) without trace shortly thereafter. The structure of DNA (of which I have blogged elsewhere) belongs to the second class, whilst one of the brightest (and now entirely forgotten) examples of the supernova type concerns the structure of proteins. In 1936, it must have seemed a sure bet that the first person to come up with a successful theory of the origins of the (non-random) relatively rigid structure of proteins would inevitably win a Nobel prize. Of course this did happen for that other biologically important system, DNA, some 17 years later. Compelling structures for larger molecules providing reliable atom-atom distances based on crystallography were still in the future in 1936, and so structural theories contained a fair element of speculation and hopefully inspired guesswork (much as cosmological theories appear to have nowadays!).