Archive for December, 2017

azatriquinacene, a novel aromatic

The range of aromatic compounds seems limitless. Mascal and co-workers have prepared the azatriquinacene 1 in a remarkably simple fashion.1 The molecule is a zwitterion, with the carbon atoms forming a 9-center, but 10 π-electron ring, and the quaternary nitrogen sitting above it. The carbon ring satisfies Hückel’s rule (4n+2) and so should be aromatic. The capping nitrogen should help to keep the carbon ring fixed in a shallow bowl.

As expected, the molecule in fact turns out to possess an aromatic 10 π-electron ring. The B3LYP/6-311++G(d,p) geometry is shown in Figure 1. There is little bond alternation among the C-C distances: the mean deviation is only 0.015 Å with the largest difference only 0.024 &Aring. The x-ray crystal structure shows the same trends. The NICS(1) value is -12.31 ppm, larger even than that of benzene (-10.22 ppm).

Figure 1. B3LYP/6-311++G(d,p) geometry of 1.


1) Hafezi, N.; Shewa, W. T.; Fettinger, J. C.; Mascal, M., "A Zwitterionic, 10 π Aromatic Hemisphere." Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2017, 56, 14141-14144, DOI: 10.1002/anie.201708521.


1: InChI=1S/C10H9N/c1-11-8-2-3-9(11)6-7-10(11)5-4-8/h2-7H,1H3

Aromaticity Steven Bachrach 11 Dec 2017 No Comments

Heavy-atom tunneling

Though recognized to occur in organic systems, the breadth of involvement of heavy-atom tunneling has not been established. Doubleday, Greer and coworkers have examined 13 simple organic reactions sampling pericyclic reactions, radical rearrangements and SN2 reactions for heavy-atom tunneling.1 A few of these reactions are shown below.

Reaction rates were obtained using the small curvature tunneling approximation (SCT), computed using Gaussrate. Reaction surfaces were computed at B3LYP/6-31G*. The tunneling correction to the rate was also estimated using the model developed by Bell: kBell = (u/2)/sin(u/2) where u = hν/RT and ν is the imaginary frequency associated with the transition state. The temperature was chosen so as to give a common rate constant of 3 x 10-5 s-1. Interestingly, all of the examined reactions exhibited significant tunneling even at temperatures from 270-350 K (See Table 1). The tunneling effect estimated by Bell’s equation is very similar to that of the more computationally demanding SCT computation.

Table 1. Tunneling contribution to the rate constant


% tunneling





CN + CH3Cl → CH3CN + Cl (aqueous)


This study points towards a much broader range of reactions that may be subject to quantum mechanical tunneling than previously considered.

(Note: The original post had swapped some of the values in Table 1. These have now been corrected. My thanks to Drs. Greer and Doubleday for bringing this to my attention.)


1. Doubleday, C.; Armas, R.; Walker, D.; Cosgriff, C. V.; Greer, E. M., "Heavy-Atom Tunneling Calculations in Thirteen Organic Reactions: Tunneling Contributions are Substantial, and Bell’s Formula Closely Approximates Multidimensional Tunneling at ≥250 K." Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2017, 56, 13099-13102, DOI: 10.1002/anie.201708489.

Tunneling Steven Bachrach 04 Dec 2017 1 Comment