Archive for March, 2019

Planar ring in a nano-Saturn

For the past twelve years, I have avoided posting on any of my own papers, but I will stoop to some shameless promotion to mention my latest paper,1 since it touches on some themes I have discussed in the past.

Back in 2011, Iwamoto, et al. prepared the complex of C60 1 surrounded by [10]cycloparaphenylene 2 to make the Saturn-like system 3.2 Just last year, Yamamoto, et al prepared the Nano-Saturn 5a as the complex of 1 with the macrocycle 4a.3 The principle idea driving their synthesis was to utilize a ring that is flatter than 2. The structures of 3 and 5b (made with the parent macrocycle 4b) are shown in side view in Figure 1, and clearly seen is the achievement of the flatter ring.




Figure 1. Computed structures of 3, 5, and 7.

However, the encompassing ring is not flat, with dihedral angles between the anthrenyl groups of 35°. This twisting is due to the steric interactions of the ortho-ortho’ hydrogens. A few years ago, my undergraduate student David Stück and I suggested that selective substitution of a nitrogen for one of the C-H groups would remove the steric interaction,4 leading to a planar poly-aryl system, such as making twisted biphenyl into the planar 2-(2-pyridyl)-pyridine (Scheme 1)

Scheme 1.

Following this idea leads to four symmetrical nitrogen-substituted analogues of 4b; and I’ll mention just one of them here, 6.

As expected, 6 is perfectly flat. The ring remains flat even when complexed with 1 (as per B3LYP-D3(BJ)/6-31G(d) computations), see the structure of 7 in Figure 1.

I also examined the complex of the flat macrocycle 6 (and its isomers) with a [5,5]-nanotube, 7. The tube bends over to create better dispersion interaction with the ring, which also become somewhat non-planar to accommodate the tube. Though not mentioned in the paper, I like to refer to 7 as Beyoncene, in tribute to All the Single Ladies.

Figure 2. Computed structure of 7.

My sister is a graphic designer and she made this terrific image for this work:


1. Bachrach, S. M., “Planar rings in nano-Saturns and related complexes.” Chem. Commun. 2019, 55, 3650-3653, DOI: 10.1039/C9CC01234F.

2. Iwamoto, T.; Watanabe, Y.; Sadahiro, T.; Haino, T.; Yamago, S., “Size-Selective Encapsulation of C60 by [10]Cycloparaphenylene: Formation of the Shortest Fullerene-Peapod.” Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2011, 50, 8342-8344, DOI: 10.1002/anie.201102302

3. Yamamoto, Y.; Tsurumaki, E.; Wakamatsu, K.; Toyota, S., “Nano-Saturn: Experimental Evidence of Complex Formation of an Anthracene Cyclic Ring with C60.” Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2018 , 57, 8199-8202, DOI: 10.1002/anie.201804430.

4. Bachrach, S. M.; Stück, D., “DFT Study of Cycloparaphenylenes and Heteroatom-Substituted Nanohoops.” J. Org. Chem. 2010, 75, 6595-6604, DOI: 10.1021/jo101371m


4b: InChI=1S/C84H48/c1-13-61-25-62-15-3-51-33-75(62)43-73(61)31-49(1)50-2-14-63-26-64-16-4-52(34-76(64)44-74(63)32-50)54-6-18-66-28-68-20-8-56(38-80(68)46-78(66)36-54)58-10-22-70-30-72-24-12-60(42-84(72)48-82(70)40-58)59-11-23-71-29-69-21-9-57(39-81(69)47-83(71)41-59)55-7-19-67-27-65-17-5-53(51)35-77(65)45-79(67)37-55/h1-48H

6: InChI=1S/C72H36N12/c1-2-38-14-44-20-45-25-67(73-31-50(45)13-37(1)44)57-9-4-39-15-51-32-74-68(26-46(51)21-61(39)80-57)58-10-5-40-16-52-33-75-69(27-47(52)22-62(40)81-58)59-11-6-41-17-53-34-76-70(28-48(53)23-63(41)82-59)60-12-7-42-18-54-35-77-71(29-49(54)24-64(42)83-60)72-78-36-55-19-43-3-8-56(38)79-65(43)30-66(55)84-72/h1-36H

Aromaticity &host-guest Steven Bachrach 26 Mar 2019 1 Comment

More DFT benchmarking

Selecting the appropriate density functional for one’s molecular system at hand is often a very confounding problem, especially for non-expert or first-time users of computational chemistry. The DFT zoo is vast and confusing, and perhaps what makes the situation worse is that there is no lack of benchmarking studies. For example, I have made more than 30 posts on benchmark studies, and I made no attempt to be comprehensive over the past dozen years!

One such benchmark study that I missed was presented by Mardirossian and Head-Gordon in 2017.1 They evaluated 200 density functional using the MGCDB84 database, a combination of data from a number of different groups. They make a series of recommendations for local GGA, local meta-GGA, hybrid GGA, and hybrid meta-GGA functionals. And when pressed to choose just one functional overall, they opt for ωB97M-V, a range-separated hybrid meta-GGA with VV10 nonlocal correlation.

Georigk and Mehta2 just recently offer a review of the density functional zoo. Leaning heavily on benchmark studies using the GMTKN553 database, they report a number of observations. Of no surprise to readers of this blog, their main conclusion is that accounting for London dispersion is essential, usually through some type of correction like those proposed by Grimme.

These authors also note the general disparity between the most accurate, best performing functional per the benchmark studies and the results of the DFT poll conducted for many years by Swart, Bickelhaupt and Duran. It is somewhat remarkable that PBE or PBE0 have topped the poll for many years, despite the fact that many newer functionals perform better. As always, when choosing a functional caveat emptor.


1.  Mardirossian, N.; Head-Gordon, M., “Thirty years of density functional theory in computational chemistry: an overview and extensive assessment of 200 density functionals.” Mol. Phys. 2017, 115, 2315-2372, DOI: 10.1080/00268976.2017.1333644.

2. Goerigk, L.; Mehta, N., “A Trip to the Density Functional Theory Zoo: Warnings and Recommendations for the User.” Aust. J. Chem. 2019, ASAP, DOI: 10.1071/CH19023.

3. Goerigk, L.; Hansen, A.; Bauer, C.; Ehrlich, S.; Najibi, A.; Grimme, S., “A look at the density functional theory zoo with the advanced GMTKN55 database for general main group thermochemistry, kinetics and noncovalent interactions.” Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys. 2017, 19, 32184-32215, DOI: 10.1039/C7CP04913G.

DFT Steven Bachrach 18 Mar 2019 No Comments