Archive for March, 2012

Nanohoop of linked napthlylene groups

Itami continues to design novel macrocycles containing aromatic rings (see this post). This latest paper reports the synthesis of the first nanohoops containing naphthylenes, namely [9]cyclo-1,4-naphthylene 1.1 Since the macrocycle contains an odd number of naphthylene units, the lowest energy conformation is of C2 symmetry with one of the naphthylene rings in the plane of the macrocycle. (See Figure 1 for the B3LYP/6-31G(d) optimized structure). This conformation gives rise to 27 peaks in the proton NMR, and while the value of the computed chemical shifts differ from the experimental ones by about 0.5 to 1 ppm, their relative ordering is in very nice agreement.



Figure 1. B3LYP/6-31G(d) optimized geometries of 1 and the racemization transition state 2.

Itami also notes that 1 is chiral and computed the barrier for racemization of 19.9 kcal mol-1¸ through the transition state 2, also shown in Figure 1. This racemization process is compared with the racemization of 1,1’-binaphthyl.


(1) Yagi, A.; Segawa, Y.; Itami, K., "Synthesis and Properties of [9]Cyclo-1,4-naphthylene: A π-Extended Carbon Nanoring," J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2012, 134, 2962-2965, DOI: 10.1021/ja300001g


1: InChI=1/C90H54/c1-2-20-56-55(19-1)73-37-38-74(56)76-41-42-78(60-24-6-5-23-59(60)76)80-45-46-82(64-28-10-9-27-63(64)80)84-49-50-86(68-32-14-13-31-67(68)84)88-53-54-90(72-36-18-17-35-71(72)88)89-52-51-87(69-33-15-16-34-70(69)89)85-48-47-83(65-29-11-12-30-66(65)85)81-44-43-79(61-25-7-8-26-2(61)81)77-40-39-75(73)57-21-3-4-22-58(57)77/h1-54H/b75-73-,76-74-,79-77-,80-78-,83-81-,84-82-,87-85-,88-86-,90-89-

nanohoops Steven Bachrach 27 Mar 2012 No Comments

Ethynyl-substituted Cyclobutadiene

Cyclobutadiene is the prototypical antiaromatic compound. McMahon has examined the
effect of ethynyl substitution on this ring, with a long term eye towards the possibility of these types of species being involved in the synthesis of fullerenes.1

All of the possible ethynyl-substituted cyclobutadiene species (1-7) were optimized at B3LYP/6-31G(d) and CCSD/cc-pVDZ in their singlet and triplet states.

The structures of singlet and triplet 7 are shown in Figure 1. The geometries provided by the two different methods are quite similar. They show a rectangular form for the singlets and a delocalized, nearly square ring for the triplets.



Figure 1. CCSD/cc-pVDZ optimized structures of singlet and triplet 7.

The computed singlet-triplet gap decreases with each ethynyl substituent. B3LYP, which overestimates the stability of triplets, predicts that 6 and 7 will be ground state triplets, while CCSD predicts a singlet ground state for all 7 species, with the gap decreasing steadily from 11.5 to 8.2 kcal mol-1, a value that is also probably underestimated.

This change in the singlet-triplet gap reflects a stronger stabilizing effect of each ethynyl group to the cycnobutadiene ring for the triplet than for the singlet state. This is seen in the homodesmotic stabilization energies.

Lastly, NICS(1)zz values are positive for all of the singlets and negative for the triplets. The positive values for the singlets reflect their antiaromatic character, also seen in the alternant bond distances around the ring. The NICS values of the singlets decrease with increasing substitution. The negative NICS values of the triplets reflects aromatic character, as seen in the non-alternant distances around the ring. Interestingly, the triplet NICS values decrease with increasing ethynyl substitution, suggesting decreased aromaticity, even though the homodesmotic reactions suggest increasing stabilization with substitution.


(1) Esselman, B. J.; McMahon, R. J., "Effects of Ethynyl Substitution on Cyclobutadiene," J. Phys. Chem. A 2012, 116, 483-490, DOI: 10.1021/jp206478q


1: InChI=1/C4H4/c1-2-4-3-1/h1-4H

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

3: InChI=1/C8H4/c1-3-7-5-6-8(7)4-2/h1-2,5-6H

4: InChI=1/C8H4/c1-3-7-5-8(4-2)6-7/h1-2,5-6H

5: InChI=1/C8H4/c1-3-7-5-6-8(7)4-2/h1-2,5-6H

6: InChI=1/C10H4/c1-4-8-7-9(5-2)10(8)6-3/h1-3,7H

7: InChI=1/C12H4/c1-5-9-10(6-2)12(8-4)11(9)7-3/h1-4H

cyclobutadiene Steven Bachrach 20 Mar 2012 No Comments

Regiolone and isosclerone: enantiomers resolved

It is striking to me that the absolute configuration of relatively simple compounds remains problematic even today. The structure of two naturally-occurring phytotoxic enantiomers 1, called regiolone and isosclerone, are finally definitively defined using a computational approach.

(R)-1: R = OH, R’ = H
(S)-1: R = H, R’ = OH

Isosclerone is the dextrorotatory isomer, while regiolone is the levorotatory isomer. The question though is which one is R and which one is S? Evidente and co-workers arbitrarily decided to compute the spectral properties of the S isomer.1 They located four low energy conformers at B3LYP/6-31G* and B3LYP/TZVP. (These conformers are not shown here as the authors did not deposit the coordinates. Reviewers and editors – please insist that this computational data be mandatory for publication!) The conformer relative energies, listed in Table 1, are dependent on the method, however, the two lowest energy structures will dominate the population and both will be present to a significant extent, regardless of which energy set is used. The optical rotation [α]D was computed at B3LYP/6-31G*//B3LYP/TZVP, and these too are listed in Table 1. The Boltzmann-weighted [α]D is 21.8. Even though the lowest energy conformer contributes a negative rotation, the much larger positive rotation due to the second-lowest energy conformer, along with the two other conformers, will dominate to dictate the OR value. This suggests that the enantiomers are (S)(+)-1 and (R)(-)-1. Computed ECD spectra confirm this assignment; the computed ECD of the (S) isomer is a near mirror image of the experimental ECD of the (-)-1 compound. Therefore, regiolone is (R)(-)-1 and isosclerone is (S)(+)-1.

Table 1. Relative free energies (kcal mol-1) and [α]D of the conformers of (S)-1.a


ΔG, 6-31G*



A 0.43 0.0 -17.50
B 0.0 0.32 67.92
C 1.21 1.03 95.72
D 1.84 1.48 17.72

aAll computations performed with B3LYP. bAt B3LYP/6-31G*//B3LYP/TZVP


(1) Evidente, A.; Superchi, S.; Cimmino, A.; Mazzeo, G.; Mugnai, L.; Rubiales, D.; Andolfi, A.; Villegas-Fernández, A. M., "Regiolone and Isosclerone, Two Enantiomeric Phytotoxic Naphthalenone Pentaketides: Computational Assignment of Absolute Configuration and Its Relationship with Phytotoxic Activity," Eur. J. Org. Chem., 2011, 5564-5570, DOI: 10.1002/ejoc.201100941


Regiolone: InChI=1/C10H10O3/c11-7-4-5-9(13)10-6(7)2-1-3-8(10)12/h1-3,7,11-12H,4-5H2/t7-/m1/s1

Isosclerone: InChI=1/C10H10O3/c11-7-4-5-9(13)10-6(7)2-1-3-8(10)12/h1-3,7,11-12H,4-5H2/t7-/m0/s1

Optical Rotation Steven Bachrach 13 Mar 2012 2 Comments

More strange dynamics from the Singleton Group

Once again the Singleton group reports experiments and computations that require serious reconsideration of our notions of reaction mechanisms.1 In this paper they examine the reaction of dichloroketene with labeled cis-2-butene. With 13C at the 2 position of 2-butene, two products are observed, 1 and 1’, in a ratio of 1’:1 = 0.993 ± 0.001. This is the opposite what one might have imagined based on the carbonyl carbon acting as an electrophile.

The first interesting item is that B3LYP/6-31+G** fails to predict the proper structure of the transition state. It predicts an asymmetric structure 2, shown in Figure 1, while MPW1k/6-31+G**, M06, and MP2 predict a Cs transition structure 3. The Cs TS is confirmed by a grid search of M06-2x geometries with CCSD(T)/6-311++G88/PCM(CH2Cl2) energies.



Figure 1. Optimized TSs 2 (B3LYP/6-31+G**) and 3 (MPW1K/6-31+G**).

The PES using proper computational methods is bifurcating past TS 3, falling downhill to product 1 or 1’. Lying on the Cs plane is a second transition state that interconverts 1 and 1’. On such a surface, conventional transition state theory would predict equal amounts of 1 and 1’, i.e. no isotope effect! So they must resort to a trajectory study – which would be impossibly long if not for the trick of making the labeled carbon super-heavy – like 28C,44C, 76C and 140C and then extrapolating back to just ordinary 13C. These trajectories indicate a ratio of 1’:1 of 0.990 in excellent agreement with the experimental value of 0.993.

Interestingly, most trajectories recross the TS, usually by reaching into the region near the second TS. However, the recrossing decreases with increasing isotopic mass, and this leads to the isotope effect. It turns out the vibrational mode 3 breaks the Cs symmetry; movement in one direction along mode 3 has no mass dependence but in the opposite direction, increased mass leads to decreased recrossing – or put in another way, in this direction, increased mass leads more often to product.

But one can understand this reaction from a statistical point of view as well. If one looks at the free energy surface, there is a variational TS near 3, but then there is a second set of variational transition states (one leading to 1 and one to 1’) which are associated with the formation of the second C-C bond. In a sense there is an intermediate past 3 that leads to two entropic barriers, one on a path to 1 and one on the path to 1’. RRKM using this model gives a ratio of 0.992 – again in agreement with experiment! It is as Singleton notes “perplexing”; how do you reconcile the statistical view with the dynamical (trajectory) view? Singleton has no full explanation.

Lastly, they point out that a similar situation occurs in the organocatalyzed Diels-Alder reaction of MacMillan shown below.2 (This reaction is also discussed in a previous post.) Now Singleton finds that the “substituent effects, selectivity, solvent effects, isotope effects and activation parameters” are all dictated by a second variational TS far removed from the conventional electronic TS.


(1) Gonzalez-James, O. M.; Kwan, E. E.; Singleton, D. A., "Entropic Intermediates and Hidden Rate-Limiting Steps in Seemingly Concerted Cycloadditions. Observation, Prediction, and Origin of an Isotope Effect on Recrossing," J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2012, 134, 1914-1917, DOI: 10.1021/ja208779k

(2) Ahrendt, K. A.; Borths, C. J.; MacMillan, D. W. C., "New Strategies for Organic Catalysis: The First Highly Enantioselective Organocatalytic Diels-Alder Reaction," J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2000, 122, 4243-4244, DOI: 10.1021/ja000092s.


2-butene: InChI=1/C4H8/c1-3-4-2/h3-4H,1-2H3/b4-3-

Dichloroketene: InChI=1/C2Cl2O/c3-2(4)1-5

1 (no isotope): InChI=1/C6H8Cl2O/c1-3-4(2)6(7,8)5(3)9/h3-4H,1-2H3/t3-,4+/m0/s1

cycloadditions &Dynamics &Isotope Effects &Singleton Steven Bachrach 06 Mar 2012 2 Comments