Open Access journal publishing debates – the elephant in the room?

November 4th, 2018
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For perhaps ten years now, the future of scientific publishing has been hotly debated. The traditional models are often thought to be badly broken, although convergence to a consensus of what a better model should be is not apparently close. But to my mind, much of this debate seems to miss one important point, how to publish data.

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The history of Alizarin (and madder).

October 18th, 2018
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The Royal Society of Chemistry historical group (of which I am a member) organises two or three one day meetings a year. Yesterday the October meeting covered (amongst other themes) the fascinating history of madder and its approximately synthetic equivalent alizarin. Here I add a little to the talk given by Alan Dronsfield on the synthesis of alizarin and the impact this had on the entire industry.

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Organocatalytic cyclopropanation of an enal: Transition state models for stereoselection.

September 30th, 2018
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Here is the concluding part of my exploration of a recently published laboratory experiment for undergraduate students.[1] I had previously outlined a possible mechanistic route, identifying TS3 (below) as the first transition state in which C-C bond formation creates two chiral centres. This is followed by a lower energy TS4 where the final stereocentre is formed, accompanied by inversion of configuration of one of the previously formed centres (red below). Now I explore what transition state calculations have to say about the absolute configurations of the final stereocentres in the carbaldehyde product.

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References

  1. M. Meazza, A. Kowalczuk, S. Watkins, S. Holland, T.A. Logothetis, and R. Rios, "Organocatalytic Cyclopropanation of (E)-Dec-2-enal: Synthesis, Spectral Analysis and Mechanistic Understanding", Journal of Chemical Education, vol. 95, pp. 1832-1839, 2018. http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acs.jchemed.7b00566

Concerted Nucleophilic Aromatic Substitution Mediated by the PhenoFluor Reagent.

September 20th, 2018
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Recently, the 100th anniversary of the birth of the famous chemist Derek Barton was celebrated with a symposium. One of the many wonderful talks presented was by Tobias Ritter and entitled “Late-stage fluorination for PET imaging” and this resonated for me. The challenge is how to produce C-F bonds under mild conditions quickly so that 18F-labelled substrates can be injected for the PET imaging. Ritter has several recent articles on this theme which you should read.[1],[2]

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References

  1. P. Tang, W. Wang, and T. Ritter, "Deoxyfluorination of Phenols", Journal of the American Chemical Society, vol. 133, pp. 11482-11484, 2011. http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/ja2048072
  2. C.N. Neumann, and T. Ritter, "Facile C–F Bond Formation through a Concerted Nucleophilic Aromatic Substitution Mediated by the PhenoFluor Reagent", Accounts of Chemical Research, vol. 50, pp. 2822-2833, 2017. http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acs.accounts.7b00413

Organocatalytic cyclopropanation of an enal: (computational) assignment of absolute configurations.

September 1st, 2018
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I am exploring the fascinating diverse facets of a recently published laboratory experiment for undergraduate students.[1] Previously I looked at a possible mechanistic route for the reaction between an enal (a conjugated aldehyde-alkene) and benzyl chloride catalysed by base and a chiral amine, followed by the use of NMR coupling constants to assign relative stereochemistries. Here I take a look at some chiroptical techniques which can be used to assign absolute stereochemistries (configurations).

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References

  1. M. Meazza, A. Kowalczuk, S. Watkins, S. Holland, T.A. Logothetis, and R. Rios, "Organocatalytic Cyclopropanation of (E)-Dec-2-enal: Synthesis, Spectral Analysis and Mechanistic Understanding", Journal of Chemical Education, vol. 95, pp. 1832-1839, 2018. http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acs.jchemed.7b00566

Organocatalytic cyclopropanation of an enal: (computational) product stereochemical assignments.

August 26th, 2018
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In the previous post, I investigated the mechanism of cyclopropanation of an enal using a benzylic chloride using a quantum chemistry based procedure. Here I take a look at the NMR spectra of the resulting cyclopropane products, with an evaluation of the original stereochemical assignments.[1]

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References

  1. M. Meazza, A. Kowalczuk, S. Watkins, S. Holland, T.A. Logothetis, and R. Rios, "Organocatalytic Cyclopropanation of (E)-Dec-2-enal: Synthesis, Spectral Analysis and Mechanistic Understanding", Journal of Chemical Education, vol. 95, pp. 1832-1839, 2018. http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acs.jchemed.7b00566

Organocatalytic cyclopropanation of an enal: (computational) mechanistic understanding.

August 25th, 2018
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Symbiosis between computation and experiment is increasingly evident in pedagogic journals such as J. Chemical Education. Thus an example of original laboratory experiments[1],[2] that later became twinned with a computational counterpart.[3] So when I spotted this recent lab experiment[4] I felt another twinning approaching.

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References

  1. A. Burke, P. Dillon, K. Martin, and T.W. Hanks, "Catalytic Asymmetric Epoxidation Using a Fructose-Derived Catalyst", Journal of Chemical Education, vol. 77, pp. 271, 2000. http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/ed077p271
  2. J. Hanson, "Synthesis and Use of Jacobsen's Catalyst: Enantioselective Epoxidation in the Introductory Organic Laboratory", Journal of Chemical Education, vol. 78, pp. 1266, 2001. http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/ed078p1266
  3. K.K.(. Hii, H.S. Rzepa, and E.H. Smith, "Asymmetric Epoxidation: A Twinned Laboratory and Molecular Modeling Experiment for Upper-Level Organic Chemistry Students", Journal of Chemical Education, vol. 92, pp. 1385-1389, 2015. http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/ed500398e
  4. M. Meazza, A. Kowalczuk, S. Watkins, S. Holland, T.A. Logothetis, and R. Rios, "Organocatalytic Cyclopropanation of (E)-Dec-2-enal: Synthesis, Spectral Analysis and Mechanistic Understanding", Journal of Chemical Education, vol. 95, pp. 1832-1839, 2018. http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acs.jchemed.7b00566

Tetrahedral carbon and cyclohexane.

August 22nd, 2018
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Following the general recognition of carbon as being tetrahedrally tetravalent in 1869 (Paterno) and 1874 (Van’t Hoff and Le Bell), an early seminal exploitation of this to the conformation of cyclohexane was by Hermann Sachse in 1890.[1] This was verified when the Braggs in 1913[2], followed by an oft-cited article by Mohr in 1918,[3] established the crystal structure of diamond as comprising repeating rings in the chair conformation. So by 1926, you might imagine that the shape (or conformation as we would now call it) of cyclohexane would be well-known. No quite so for everyone!

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References

  1. H. Sachse, "Ueber die geometrischen Isomerien der Hexamethylenderivate", Berichte der deutschen chemischen Gesellschaft, vol. 23, pp. 1363-1370, 1890. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/cber.189002301216
  2. W.H. Bragg, and W.L. Bragg, "The Structure of the Diamond", Proceedings of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences, vol. 89, pp. 277-291, 1913. http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rspa.1913.0084
  3. E. Mohr, "Die Baeyersche Spannungstheorie und die Struktur des Diamanten", Journal f�r Praktische Chemie, vol. 98, pp. 315-353, 1918. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/prac.19180980123

Early “curly” (reaction) arrows. Those of Ingold in 1926.

August 22nd, 2018
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In 2012, I wrote a story of the first ever reaction curly arrows, attributed to Robert Robinson in 1924. At the time there was a great rivalry between him and another UK chemist, Christopher Ingold, with the latter also asserting his claim for their use. As part of the move to White City a lot of bookshelves were cleared out from the old buildings in South Kensington, with the result that yesterday a colleague brought me a slim volume they had found entitled The Journal of the Imperial College Chemical Society (Volume 6). 

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The “White City Trio” – The formation of an amide from an acid and an amine in non-polar solution (updated).

August 8th, 2018
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White City is a small area in west london created as an exhibition site in 1908, morphing over the years into an Olympic games venue, a greyhound track, the home nearby of the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) and most recently the new western campus for Imperial College London. The first Imperial department to move into the MSRH (Molecular Sciences Research Hub) building is chemistry. As a personal celebration of this occasion, I here dedicate three transition states located during my first week of occupancy there, naming them the White City trio following earlier inspiration by a string trio and their own instruments.

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