The recent synthesis and characterization of the quadrannulene 1 once again stretches
our notions of aromaticity.1


The core of this system is a four-member ring with four fused-phenyl rings, forming the very small circulene (see this earlier post on circulenes). One might write other resonance structures for the molecule, which could include a central cyclobutadienyl fragment. However, the X-ray structure and computational analysis rejects any significant contribution of the cyclobutadienyl character. First, the four C-C bond of this central ring are 1.45 Å long, with an NBO bond order of 1.08, signifying single bonds. The bonds from the central 4-member ring are 1.36 Å long with bond order of 1.77 – these are double bonds. NICS computations attest to the central ring (+4.5 ppm) being more like [4]radialene (with a NICS value of -2.6 ppm) than like cyclobutadiene (with a NICS value of +16.5 ppm). The 6-member rings fused to the central ring have NICS values of -2.33 ppm, suggesting a non aromatic character, while the outer rings have NICS values of -10.7ppm, similar to that of benzene. The structure is clearly of radialene form. Nonetheless, the central ring possess extremely pyramidalized carbons, as seen in Figure 1, and their π-orbital axis vector, a measure of the pyramidalization, is 107°, which is similar to the idealized tetrahedral value of 109.47°. Despite this stain, the molecule is thermally stable to 170°C and reacts only slowly with air or base. This molecule will surely inspire further work in the small circulenes.



Fig 1. B3LYP/6-311G** structures of 1 and its parent 1a (lacking the TMS groups).1


(1) Bharat, R. B.; Bally, T.; Valente, A.; Cyranski, M. K.; Dobrzycki, L.; Spain, S. M.; Rempala, P.; Chin, M. R.; King, B. T., "Quadrannulene: A Nonclassical Fullerene Fragment," Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2009, DOI: 10.1002/anie.200905633


1: InChI=1/C44H48Si4/c1-45(2,3)33-21-29-30(22-34(33)46(4,5)6)38-27-19-15-16-20-28(27)40-32-24-36(48(10,11)12)35(47(7,8)9)23-31(32)39-26-18-14-13-17-25(26)37(29)41-42(38)44(40)43(39)41/h13-24H,1-12H3

1a: InChI=1/C32H16/c1-2-10-18-17(9-1)25-19-11-3-4-12-20(19)27-23-15-7-8-16-24(23)28-22-14-6-5-13-21(22)26(18)30-29(25)31(27)32(28)30/h1-16H