Archive for August, 2015

Review of planar hypercoordinate atoms

Yang, Ganz, Chen, Wang, and Schleyer have published a very interesting and comprehensive review of planar hypercoordinate compounds, with a particular emphasis on planar tetracoordinate carbon compounds.1 A good deal of this review covers computational results.

There are two major motifs for constructing planar tetracoordinate carbon compounds. The first involves some structural constraints that hold (or force) the carbon into planarity. A fascinating example is 1 computed by Rasmussen and Radom in 1999.2 This molecule taxed their computational resources, and as was probably quite typical for that time, there is no supplementary materials. But since this compound has high symmetry (D2h) I reoptimized its structure at ω-B97X-D/6-311+G(d) and computed its frequencies in just a few hours. This structure is shown in Figure 1. However, it should be noted that at this computational level, 1 possesses a single imaginary frequency corresponding to breaking the planarity of the central carbon atom. Rasmussen and Radom computed the structure of 1 at MP2/6-31G(d) with numerical frequencies all being positive. They also note that the B3LYP/6-311+G(3df,2p) structure also has a single imaginary frequency.

A second approach toward planar tetracoordinate carbon compounds is electronic: having π-acceptor ligands to stabilize the p-lone pair on carbon and σ-donating ligands to help supply sufficient electrons to cover the four bonds. Perhaps the premier simple example of this is the dication 2¸ whose ω-B97X-D/6-311+G(d,p) structure is also shown in Figure 1.

The review covers heteroatom planar hypercoordinate species as well. It also provides brief coverage of some synthesized examples.



Figure 1. Optimized structures of 1 and 2.


(1) Yang, L.-M.; Ganz, E.; Chen, Z.; Wang, Z.-X.; Schleyer, P. v. R. "Four Decades of the Chemistry of Planar Hypercoordinate Compounds," Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2015, 54, 9468-9501, DOI: 10.1002/anie.201410407.

(2) Rasmussen, D. R.; Radom, L. "Planar-Tetracoordinate Carbon in a Neutral Saturated Hydrocarbon: Theoretical Design and Characterization," Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 1999, 38, 2875-2878, DOI: 10.1002/(SICI)1521-3773(19991004)38:19<2875::AID-ANIE2875>3.0.CO;2-D.


1: InChI=1S/C23H24/c1-7-11-3-15-9-2-10-17-5-13-8(1)14-6-18(10)22-16(9)4-12(7)20(14,22)23(22)19(11,13)21(15,17)23/h7-18H,1-6H2

2: InChI=1S/C5H4/c1-2-5(1)3-4-5/h1-4H/q+2

Schleyer Steven Bachrach 26 Aug 2015 6 Comments


I want to update my discussion of m-benzyne, which I present in my book in Chapter 5.5.3. The interesting question concerning m-benzyne concerns its structure: is it a single ring structure 1a or a bicyclic structure 1b? Single configuration methods including closed-shell DFT methods predict the bicylic structure, but multi-configuration methods and unrestricted DFT predict it to be 1a. Experiments support the single ring structure 1a.

The key measurement distinguishing these two structure type is the C1-C3 distance. Table 1 updates Table 5.11 from my book with the computed value of this distance using some new methods. In particular, the state-specific multireference coupled cluster Mk-MRCCSD method1 with the cc-pCVTZ basis set indicates a distance of 2.014 Å.2 The density cumulant functional theory3 ODC-124 with the cc-pCVTZ basis set also predicts the single ring structure with a distance of 2.101 Å.5

Table 1. C1-C3 distance (Å) with different computational methods using the cc-pCVTZ basis set












(1) Evangelista, F. A.; Allen, W. D.; Schaefer III, H. F. "Coupling term derivation and general implementation of state-specific multireference coupled cluster theories," J. Chem. Phys 2007, 127, 024102-024117, DOI: 10.1063/1.2743014.

(2) Jagau, T.-C.; Prochnow, E.; Evangelista, F. A.; Gauss, J. "Analytic gradients for Mukherjee’s multireference coupled-cluster method using two-configurational self-consistent-field orbitals," J. Chem. Phys. 2010, 132, 144110, DOI: 10.1063/1.3370847.

(3) Kutzelnigg, W. "Density-cumulant functional theory," J. Chem. Phys. 2006, 125, 171101, DOI: 10.1063/1.2387955.

(4) Sokolov, A. Y.; Schaefer, H. F. "Orbital-optimized density cumulant functional theory," J. Chem. Phys. 2013, 139, 204110, DOI: 10.1063/1.4833138.

(5) Mullinax, J. W.; Sokolov, A. Y.; Schaefer, H. F. "Can Density Cumulant Functional Theory Describe Static Correlation Effects?," J. Chem. Theor. Comput. 2015, 11, 2487-2495, DOI: 10.1021/acs.jctc.5b00346.


1a: InChI=1S/C6H4/c1-2-4-6-5-3-1/h1-3,6H

benzynes &Schaefer Steven Bachrach 18 Aug 2015 No Comments

Domino Tunneling

A 2013 study of oxalic acid 1 failed to uncover any tunneling between its conformations,1 despite observation of tunneling in other carboxylic acids (see this post). This was rationalized by computations which suggested rather high rearrangement barriers. Schreiner, Csaszar, and Allen have now re-examined oxalic acid using both experiments and computations and find what they call domino tunneling.2

First, they determined the structures of the three conformations of 1 along with the two transition states interconnecting them using the focal point method. These geometries and relative energies are shown in Figure 1. The barrier for the two rearrangement steps are smaller than previous computations suggest, which suggests that tunneling may be possible.






Figure 1. Geometries of the conformers of 1 and the TS for rearrangement and relative energies (kcal mol-1)

Placing oxalic acid in a neon matrix at 3 K and then exposing it to IR radiation populates the excited 1tTt conformation. This state then decays to both 1cTt and 1cTc, which can only happen through a tunneling process at this very cold temperature. Kinetic analysis indicates that there are two different rates for decay from both 1tTt and 1cTc, with the two rates associated with different types of sites within the matrix.

The intrinsic reaction paths for the two rearrangements: 1tTt1cTt and → 1cTc were obtained at MP2/aug-cc-pVTZ. Numerical integration and the WKB method yield similar half-lives: about 42 h for the first reaction and 23 h for the second reaction. These match up very well with the experimental half-lives from the fast matrix sites of 43 ± 4 h and 30 ± 20 h, respectively. Thus, the two steps take place sequentially via tunneling, like dominos falling over.


(1) Olbert-Majkut, A.; Ahokas, J.; Pettersson, M.; Lundell, J. "Visible Light-Driven Chemistry of Oxalic Acid in Solid Argon, Probed by Raman Spectroscopy," J. Phys. Chem. A 2013, 117, 1492-1502, DOI: 10.1021/jp311749z.

(2) Schreiner, P. R.; Wagner, J. P.; Reisenauer, H. P.; Gerbig, D.; Ley, D.; Sarka, J.; Császár, A. G.; Vaughn, A.; Allen, W. D. "Domino Tunneling," J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2015, 137, 7828-7834, DOI: 10.1021/jacs.5b03322.


1: InChI=1S/C2H2O4/c3-1(4)2(5)6/h(H,3,4)(H,5,6)

focal point &Schreiner &Tunneling Steven Bachrach 11 Aug 2015 1 Comment

An amazing barrel structure

I don’t really have anything to say about this recent paper by Anderson, et al.1 They have simply prepared a very beautiful structure, an aryllated analogue of 1. They even optimized the structure of 1 at BLYP/6-31G(d) and it’s shown in Figure 1. That must have taken some time!

Figure 1. BLYP/6-31G(d) optimized structure of 1.
(Remember that you can manipulate this structure by simply clicking on in, which will launch the JMol app.)


(1) Neuhaus, P.; Cnossen, A.; Gong, J. Q.; Herz, L. M.; Anderson, H. L. "A Molecular Nanotube with Three-Dimensional π-Conjugation," Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2015, 54, 7344-7348, DOI: 10.1002/anie.201502735.

Uncategorized Steven Bachrach 04 Aug 2015 2 Comments