Archive for the ‘Interesting chemistry’ Category

Biotin’s biggest lesson is the importance of nonclassical H-bonds in protein−ligand complexes.

Saturday, November 27th, 2021

The title comes from the abstract of an article[1] analysing why Biotin (vitamin B7) is such a strong and effective binder to proteins, with a free energy of (non-covalent) binding approaching 21 kcal/mol. The author argues that an accumulation of both CH-π and CH-O together with more classical hydrogen bonds and augmented by a sulfur centered hydrogen bond, oxyanion holes and water solvation, accounts for this large binding energy.



  1. D.B. McConnell, "Biotin’s Lessons in Drug Design", Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, vol. 64, pp. 16319-16327, 2021.

Tetra-isopropylmethane and tetra-t-butylmethane.

Tuesday, August 17th, 2021

The homologous hydrocarbon series R4C is known for R=Me as neopentane and for R=Et as 3,3-diethylpentane. The next homologue, R=iPr bis(3,3-isopropyl)-2,4-dimethylpentane is also a known molecule[1] for which a crystal structure has been reported (DOI: The final member of the series, R= tbutyl is unknown. Here I have a look at some properties of the last two of these highly hindered hydrocarbons.



  1. S.I. Kozhushkov, R.R. Kostikov, A.P. Molchanov, R. Boese, J. Benet-Buchholz, P.R. Schreiner, C. Rinderspacher, I. Ghiviriga, and A. de Meijere, "Tetracyclopropylmethane: A Unique Hydrocarbon with S4 Symmetry", Angewandte Chemie International Edition, vol. 40, pp. 180-183, 2001.<180::AID-ANIE180>3.0.CO;2-K

Molecules with very large dipole moments: cyclopropenium acetylide

Sunday, July 11th, 2021

Occasionally, someone comments about an old post here, asking a question. Such was the case here, when a question about the dipole moment of cyclopropenylidene arose. It turned out to be 3.5D, but this question sparked a thought about the related molecule below.


A closer look at that fourth bond in C2.

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2021

From the last few posts here, you might have noticed much discussion about how the element carbon might sustain a quadruple bond. The original post on this topic from some years ago showed the molecular orbitals of the species CN+, which included two bonding π-types and a low lying nodeless bonding σ-orbital, all with double occupancies and adding up to a triple bond. Discussing now C2 itself, there are two remaining orbitals for consideration which we will for the purpose here call the highest occupied σ-MO or HOσMO (Σu) and the lowest unoccupied σ-MO or LUσMO (Σg) and which are more mysterious.


A suggestion for a molecule with a M⩸C quadruple bond with trigonal metal coordination.

Thursday, May 13th, 2021

The proposed identification of molecules with potential metal to carbon quadruple bonds, in which the metal exhibits trigonal bipyramidal coordination rather than the tetrahedral modes which have been proposed in the literature[1],[2],[3] leads on to asking whether simple trigonal coordination at the metal can also sustain this theme?



  1. A.J. Kalita, S.S. Rohman, C. Kashyap, S.S. Ullah, and A.K. Guha, "Transition metal carbon quadruple bond: viability through single electron transmutation", Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics, vol. 22, pp. 24178-24180, 2020.
  2. A.J. Kalita, S.S. Rohman, C. Kashyap, S.S. Ullah, I. Baruah, L.J. Mazumder, P.P. Sahu, and A.K. Guha, "Is a transition metal–silicon quadruple bond viable?", Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics, vol. 23, pp. 9660-9662, 2021.
  3. L.F. Cheung, T. Chen, G.S. Kocheril, W. Chen, J. Czekner, and L. Wang, "Observation of Four-Fold Boron–Metal Bonds in RhB(BO) and RhB", The Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, vol. 11, pp. 659-663, 2020.

What does a double σ-bond along a bond axis look like?

Monday, May 10th, 2021

Introductory chemistry will tell us that a triple bond between say two carbon atoms comprises just one bond of σ-axial symmetry and two of π-symmetry. Increasingly mentioned nowadays is the possibility of a quadruple bond between carbon and either itself or a transition metal, as discussed in the previous post. Such a bond comprises TWO bonds of σ-axial symmetry. Since most people are unfamiliar with such double bonds and in particular with how that second σ-bond sits with the first, I thought it would be interesting to show such an orbital. This one is a localised orbital 41, selected from the previous post for the molecule (PH3)2(CN)2Mo⩸C. (more…)

Deltamethrin – a polymorphed insecticide.

Wednesday, March 24th, 2021

Deltamethin is a pyrethroid insecticide for control of malaria which has been used for a little while. Perhaps inevitably, mosquitoes are developing resistance to it. So what could be done about countering this? Well, perhaps surprisingly, form a polymorph![1] These crystal structure isomers are often highly undesirable; thus Ritonavir, which changed its polymorphic form during manufacture to become far less active (due it has to be said to insolubility). Now a polymorph of Deltamethin has been discovered, which when applied as a powder, increases its effectiveness more than 10 times against Anopheles mosquitoes and provides a potentially new affordable malaria control solution for countries that are loosing protection.



  1. J. Yang, B. Erriah, C.T. Hu, E. Reiter, X. Zhu, V. López-Mejías, I.P. Carmona-Sepúlveda, M.D. Ward, and B. Kahr, "A deltamethrin crystal polymorph for more effective malaria control", Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol. 117, pp. 26633-26638, 2020.

The small-molecule antiviral compound Molnupiravir: an exploration of its tautomers.

Sunday, March 14th, 2021

For obvious reasons, anti-viral molecules are very much in the news at the moment. Thus Derek Lowe highlights Molnupiravir which is shown as a hydroxylamine, the representation originating from the Wikipedia page on the molecule.


Non-covalent-interaction (NCI) surfaces for two large annulenes (revisited).

Sunday, February 7th, 2021

The last post addressed the concept of “steric clashes” in a pericyclic reaction transition state as an extension of the time honoured practice of building molecular models to analyse reaction outcomes. A modern computer generated model might express this in terms of a NCI (non-covalent-interaction) surface. A few posts ago, I had looked at some “molecules of the year” for 2020, one of which was a “figure-eight” twisted dodecaporphyrin in which an aspect of the reported[1] geometry had struck me as potentially lacking features due to the so-called non-covalent dispersion or van der Waals attractions. So I am revisiting here by adding the NCI surface for this molecule and one other.



  1. M. Rickhaus, M. Jirasek, L. Tejerina, H. Gotfredsen, M.D. Peeks, R. Haver, H. Jiang, T.D.W. Claridge, and H.L. Anderson, "Global aromaticity at the nanoscale", Nature Chemistry, vol. 12, pp. 236-241, 2020.

The chemical synthesis of C2: another fascinating twist to the story.

Wednesday, January 20th, 2021

Last May, I wrote an update to the story sparked by the report of the chemical synthesis of C2.[1] This species has a long history of spectroscopic observation in the gas phase, resulting from its generation at high temperatures.[2] The chemical synthesis however was done in solution at ambient or low temperatures, a game-changer as they say. Here I give another update to this unfolding story.



  1. K. Miyamoto, S. Narita, Y. Masumoto, T. Hashishin, T. Osawa, M. Kimura, M. Ochiai, and M. Uchiyama, "Room-temperature chemical synthesis of C2", Nature Communications, vol. 11, 2020.
  2. T.W. Schmidt, "The Spectroscopy of C2: A Cosmic Beacon", Accounts of Chemical Research, vol. 54, pp. 481-489, 2021.