Archive for the ‘Organic’ Category

The big bang theory (made safe) — Impact insensitive dinitromethanide salts

The improvement of high energy density materials (HEDM) is an ongoing challenge. These materials are widely used in propellants, explosives, and pyrotechnics, and researchers face the difficult task of optimising their explosive potential while ensuring their safety and ease of handling. Nitro-substituted methanide compounds are an important class of HEDM, but often suffer from thermal instability and impact sensitivity. This HOT ChemComm article addresses this challenge by highlighting the preparation and analysis of impact insensitive dinitromethanide salts.

Jean’ne Shreeve at the University of Idaho, working with Ling He at Sichuan University and co-workers at the US Naval Research Laboratory, proposed that by combining an oxygen-rich polynitromethanide anion (either a nitroform anion TNM, or a dinitromethanide anion DNM) with nitrogen-rich cations such as guanidinium, triazolium and tetrazolium anions, the resulting salt would exhibit high energetic properties as well as improved stability.

Using a range of guanidinium, triazolium and tetrazolium halides, the researchers prepared nine DNM salts and analysed their physicochemical properties. All of the salts displayed good thermal and detonation properties while being significantly less sensitive to impact than common explosives such as 2,4,6-trinitrotoluene (TNT) and cyclotrimethylenetrinitramine (RDX).

Molecular structure and Packing diagram of DNM salt 3

Guanidinium–DNM salt 3, decomposing at 187 °C, displayed the best thermal stability among all other known DNM salts. X-ray crystallography revealed that this increased stability is due to its strongly hydrogen-bonded structure. Each guanidinium cation forms six hydrogen bonds with the NO2 groups of four surrounding anions, creating a planar, layered packing structure.

Insights such as these will allow researchers to design HEDM with better thermal stability and less impact sensitivity, controlling their energetic potential yet ensuring greater safety and utility.

For more, check out the ChemComm article in full:
Impact insensitive dinitromethanide salts
Ling He, Guo-Hong Tao, Damon A. Parrish, and Jean’ne M. Shreeve
Chem. Commun., 2013, Accepted Manuscript
DOI: 10.1039/C3CC46518G

Ruth E. Gilligan is a guest web-writer for ChemComm.  She has recently completed her PhD in the group of Prof. Matthew J. Gaunt at the University of Cambridge, focusing on the development and application of C–H functionalisation methodology.

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Mind the gap – Enhancing intercalation of luminescent aggregates

Particular molecules, which are not luminescent in solution, can luminesce intensely upon molecular aggregation; this is known as aggregation-induced emission (AIE). AIE luminogens are used widely as efficient electroluminescent materials, sensitive chemosensors, and as bioprobes. The main cause of the AIE effect is the restriction of intramolecular rotation. Therefore it can be promoted by introducing the molecules into inorganic materials with a rigid skeleton such as α-zirconium phosphate layers.

Jihong Yu and colleagues from Jilin University in China have published a method describing the intercalation of a quaternary tetraphenylethene (TPEN) cation, an AIE chromophore, into α-zirconium phosphate. At first glance, this does not seem to be too difficult a task– after all, the TPEN has two permanent positive charges on either end suitable to interact with the negatively charged phosphate layers. But, in this case, size does matter. The chromophore is almost three times larger than the distance between phosphate layers, more than a tight fit!

Stretching the layers of α-zirconium phosphate by preintercalation of butylamine before introduction of the chromophore

To overcome this problem, Yu and colleagues carried out a preintercalation step with butylamine before performing a cation exchange step to place the TPEN chromophore within the phosphate layers. Ultimately, they stretched the layer before putting the final molecule inside, just like you would stretch a pair of shoes in an effort to make them fit before placing your sensitive feet inside.

The intercalated product was found to be highly emissive in the blue region of the electromagnetic spectrum and was readily internalized by cells. The system also showed good biocompatibility, suggesting that it would make an excellent base for fluorescent labels in future biomedical imaging applications.

To read the details, check out the HOT Chem Comm article in full:

AIE cation functionalized layered zirconium phosphate nanoplatelets: ion-exchange intercalation and cell imaging

Dongdong Li, Chuanlong Miao, Xiaodan Wang, Xianghui Yu, Jihong Yu and Ruren Xu
Chem. Commun., 2013, 49, Accepted Manuscript
DOI: 10.1039/C3CC45041D

Iain Larmour is a guest web writer for ChemComm.  He has researched a wide variety of topics during his years in the lab including nanostructured surfaces for water repellency and developing nanoparticle systems for bioanalysis by surface enhanced optical spectroscopies.  He currently works in science management with a focus on responses to climate change.  In his spare time he enjoys reading, photography and art.

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A new, functionally tolerant route to organo-aluminium reagents

Paul Knochel and colleagues at the Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich have reported a new general synthesis of aryl and heteroaryl aluminium reagents.  The route described allows a larger range of functional groups to be incorporated, compared with the more usual approach of inserting Al into aryl halide bonds directly.  The synthetic methodology uses di-isobutyl aluminium chloride and n-BuLi at -78C in an exchange reaction with a functionalised aryl or heteroaryl halide.

General scheme for preparation and derivitisation of aryl aluminium reagents

The synthesis of a group of derivatives is described, via the reaction of the aluminium reagents with a variety of electrophiles.  Typical cross coupling reactions using palladium catalysis, as well as copper-catalysed Michael additions, allylation and acylations are reported, involving a rich variety of incorporated functional groups. Importantly, further derivitisation of the organo-aluminium reagents includes no further transmetalation steps.

Of note are the reactivities of electron-rich furan and thiophene bromides functionalised with ester groups, which also could remain intact during the reaction with di-isobutylaluminium chloride and butyl-lithium at -78C, yielding the desired reagents that were further derivatised, as in other examples.

N-heterocycles such as 3-bromo-quinoline also received attention, yielding the aluminium reagent in 73% yield, and smoothly converting in a palladium catalysed cross coupling reaction with 4-iodobenzonitrile.  Full NMR data for the products of the reactions described is given in the supplementary information.

In general, this Communication describes a considerable step forward in the field of organo-aluminium reagents for organic synthesis, and no doubt will be of interest to synthetic chemists in many fields.

Read this HOT ChemComm article today!

Generation of Functionalised Aryl and Heteroaryl Aluminium Reagents by Halogen/Lithium Exchange
Thomas Klatt, Klaus Groll and Paul Knochel
Chem. Commun., 2013,49, 6953-6955
DOI: 10.1039/C3CC43356K, Communication

Kevin Murnaghan is a guest web-writer for Chemical Communications. He is currently a Research Chemist in the Adhesive Technologies Business Sector of Henkel AG & Co. KGaA, based in Düsseldorf, Germany. His research interests focus primarily on enabling chemistries and technologies for next generation adhesives and surface treatments. Any views expressed here are his personal ones and not those of Henkel AG & Co. KGaA.

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Synthesis of non-toxic HSP90 inhibitors via Suzuki–Miyaura reaction

HSP90 (Heat Shock Protein 90) is a chaperone protein which is involved in the disease pathways of many cancers, and such neurodegenerative illnesses as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.  The inhibition of HSP90 has gained a great deal of attention since its discovery, and offers the potential to treat many serious illnesses.  Much interest has focused on geldanamycin—a benzoquinone ansamycin which is highly effective in the inhibition of HSP90.  Unfortunately, geldanamycin suffers from high liver toxicity in addition to poor stability and solubility which greatly limits its therapeutic utility.

Christopher Moody at the University of Nottingham has devoted much research toward the targeting and inhibition of HSP90.  His group recently discovered that the 19-position plays a key role in geldanamycin’s toxicity, and that substitution at that position can render the compound non-toxic, through the suppression of conjugate addition reactions which are thought to be responsible for its hepatotoxicity.

While Moody previously utilized the Stille reaction for substitution at this position, the transformation was limited in cases, not scalable, and its industrial application was hampered by undesirable, toxic reagents and waste products.  In this Communication, Moody and Kitson overcome these problems by employing the Suzuki–Miyaura reaction to install functionality at the 19-position.  Using a modification of the Suzuki–Miyaura reaction previously described by Eli Lilly researchers, Moody was able to obtain functionalised geldanamycins in yields which compare well with or exceed those obtained by the Stille protocol.

Beginning with readily accessible 19-iodogeldanamycin (1), the cross-coupling reaction allows a range of substituents to be installed easily, using an array of widely available boronic acids and esters. Aryl-, vinyl- and allyl-groups could be installed with excellent yields, while the use of alkyl boronic acids and esters afforded moderate results. The electronic supplementary information contains full details of the reaction optimisation.

This method allows non-toxic 19-substituted-geldanamycins to be prepared efficiently and without the disadvantages associated with the previous Stille route.  Not only will this benefit the synthesis of geldanamycins within the pharmaceutical industry, but it should also encourage further clinical research of these important compounds.

For more, check out the ChemComm article in full:

An improved route to 19-substituted geldanamycins as novel Hsp90 inhibitors – potential therapeutics in cancer and neurodegeneration
Russell R. A. Kitson and Christopher J. Moody
Chem. Commun., 2013, Advance Article
DOI: 10.1039/C3CC43457E

Ruth E. Gilligan is a guest web-writer for ChemComm.  She has recently completed her PhD in the group of Prof. Matthew J. Gaunt at the University of Cambridge, focusing on the development and application of C–H functionalisation methodology.

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Simple synthesis of heavy oxygen-labelled alcohols

Rozen and co-workers report a novel and extremely simple method for synthesising 18O-labelled alcohols using commercial boronic acids and a reagent prepared from elemental fluorine.

Alcohols labelled with 18O are very valuable as biological probes for a variety of studies which are often limited by the availability of labelled precursors for use in the synthesis of the compounds of interest.

Scientists in Israel prepared an 18O-labelled acetonitrile complex of hypofluorous acid by simply bubbling dilute F2 through acetonitrile and 18O-labelled water. They performed a series of reactions of this complex with a variety of aliphatic and aromatic boronic acids at room temperature to produce a series of 18O-labelled alcohols within just a few minutes and in excellent yields – generally upwards of 90 per cent.

Read this ‘HOT’ ChemComm Communication for free:

The first general route for efficient synthesis of 18O labelled alcohols using the HOF⋅CH3CN complex
Shlomo Rozen, Julia Luria and Inna Vints
Chem. Commun., 2013, Accepted Manuscript
DOI: 10.1039/C3CC42337A

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ChemComm-RSC Prizes and Awards Symposium: Supramolecular Chemistry

We invite you to join us for the ChemComm-RSC Prizes and Awards Symposium which will be taking place on 24 May 2013 in Dublin, Ireland.

This free one-day event will comprise of stimulating lectures reflecting the academic and industrial breadth of supramolecular chemistry, delivered by RSC Prize and Award winners and leaders in the field.

Confirmed Speakers:

  • Jerry Atwood, University of Missouri-Columbia – Winner of the 2012 RSC Supramolecular Award
  • John Callan, University of Ulster
  • Chris Chang, University of California, Berkeley – Winner of the 2012 RSC Chemistry of Transition Metals Award
  • Sylvia Draper, Trinity College Dublin
  • Phil Gale, University of Southampton – ChemComm sponsored lecture
  • David Leigh, University of Manchester – ChemComm sponsored lecture
  • Donal O’Shea, University College Dublin
  • Susan Quinn, University College Dublin
  • Eoin Scanlon, Trinity College Dublin
  • Jonathan Steed, Durham University – ChemComm sponsored lecture

We hope you and your colleagues will be able to attend the ChemComm-RSC Prizes and Awards Symposium. For further information about this event and to register, please visit the dedicated webpage.

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23rd International Symposium: Synthesis in Organic Chemistry

The deadline for submitting poster abstracts for the 23rd International Symposium: Synthesis in Organic Chemistry is fast approaching – 11 March 2013.

The Synthesis in Organic Chemistry conference is the flagship event of the RSC’s Organic Division. This conference will provide an international showcase for the core area of organic chemistry – synthesis – covering all aspects of contemporary organic synthesis and providing a forum for the ever more exciting methodologies and strategies that continue to emerge.

Don’t miss out – reserve your poster presentation space for a chance to showcase your own work, and register early to take advantage of the £50 saving on the standard fee.

Remember too that there are a limited number of bursaries on offer for students and younger members of the RSC in the early stages of their career – worth £150.

Make sure you take the opportunity to join us to hear outstanding speakers across the many themes of the symposium in an extremely stimulating programme of plenary and keynote lectures.

Check out the event website to find out more – http://rsc.li/os23

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Novel silicon-mediated transannular cyclopropanation

An intriguing new method of transannular cyclopropanation has been reported by Prof. James Dowden‘s group at the University of Nottingham. This cyclopropanation, mediated by the presence of a trimethylsilyl group, allows the rapid formation of 4-azabicyclo(5.1.0)octenones (3) from simple starting materials. Divinyl beta-lactam (1) was elegantly formed via a Staudinger cycloaddition reaction beginning from 3-trimethylsilylpropenal, 4-methoxyaniline and crotonyl chloride. Next, researchers were able to transform 1 into dihydroazocinone (2) using a thermal Cope rearrangement.

The Dowden group discovered that if 2 was treated with TBAF or aqueous sodium hydroxide, 4-azabicyclo(5.1.0)octenone (3) could be formed. Interestingly, the reaction was dependent on the presence of the silicon group; when the trimethylsilyl group was replaced with an ester, no cyclopropanation occurred. The researchers proposed that the transannular cyclopropanation could be viewed as a Lewis-base–promoted Hosomi–Sakurai reaction proceeding via intramolecular 1,4-conjugate addition. 4-azabicyclo(5.1.0)octenones (3) are an unusual structural motif and it is hoped that this facile method for their construction may facilitate further examination of chemical space interactions.

Read this ‘HOT’ Chem Comm article today:

An unusual silicon mediated transannular cyclopropanation

Bing You,  Kate Hamer,  William Lewis and James Dowden
Chem. Commun., 2013, 49, 795-797
DOI: 10.1039/C2CC37739J
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True racemic crystals: Surprising new insights on preparation and structure

Isopropyl 3,3,3-trifluoro-2-hydroxypropanoate (1) is an important compound for the study of self-disproportionation of enantiomers (SDE), in which an enantiomerically enriched mixture can be separated into enantiopure and racemic portions under achiral conditions. This remarkable separation is made possible by the differences in physicochemical properties of enantiopure and racemic substances. Research led by Professor Vadim A. Soloshonok at the University of the Basque Country has now shed light on the unusual properties of racemic crystals of 1.

True racemic crystals were obtained by sublimation of a mixture of (S)- and (R)- crystal conglomerates at ambient temperature and atmospheric pressure. Surprisingly, when these racemic crystals were analysed, the unit cell was not dimeric in nature as previously thought, but rather contained two distinct (S)- and (R)- enantiomers with no heterochiral H-bonding. The preference of 1 for homochiral intermolecular interactions may explain its extraordinary ability for SDE. Indeed, Soloshonok and co-workers showed that achiral chromatography could be used to obtain enantiopure 1 from an original sample with just 75% ee (see above).

For more, read this ‘HOT’ Chem Comm article today:

Unconventional preparation of racemic crystals of isopropyl 3,3,3-trifluoro-2-hydroxypropanoate and their unusual crystallographic structure: the ultimate preference for homochiral intermolecular interactions

José Luis Aceña, Alexander E. Sorochinsky, Toshimasa Katagiri and Vadim A. Soloshonok
Chem. Commun., 2013, 49, 373–375
DOI: 10.1039/c2cc37491a
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Metal Free Thiolation Reactions of a Series of Heteroaromatics

Aromatic compounds substituted with a C-S bond are of importance for pharmaceutical and medicinal chemistry, and materials science. A widely employed route to such compounds is a cross coupling reaction, between an aryl halide and a thiol, to yield a thioether. The reaction is usually mediated and catalysed by a metal centre such as palladium, indium or nickel, present as a salt or complex. In this communication, the authors report a high yielding, transition metal free route to aryl thioethers, using just a disulfide and a weak base, in a suitable solvent, under an inert gas.

The authors proved early in their study that a metal salt was not required for reactivity, with better yields being recorded for such reactions, versus a metal salt containing control. A further control reaction was carried out, to disprove the presence or effect of any trace transition metal by using ultrapure caesium carbonate (99.994% purity) and freshly distilled solvent.

Metal Free Thiolation Reactions of a Series of Heteroaromatics

The model reaction investigated and optimised was the thiolation of 2-phenyl-1,3,4-oxadiazole with di-p-tolyl disulfide. Reaction conditions which gave the best yields involved the use of 2 equivalents of base and 1,4-dioxane as solvent, under an argon atmosphere, for typically 18-24 h. 5 equivalents of disulfide were found to be the most effective. Using 7 equivalents gave no benefit to the final yield. Coincidently, the excess disulfide proved easily recoverable from the reaction mixture.

Electronic effects proved to be important in the reactivity of the phenyl-oxadiazoles with electron donating groups present on the arene promoting the reaction and electron withdrawing groups having a negative effect. The reaction also shows a good degree of robustness in being effective in thiolating indole and 5-methyl-indole at the 3 positions in excellent yield, as well as other substrates such as caffeine and benzimidazole.

This synthetic methodology represents an important simplification in the preparation of heteroaromatic thioethers, and should prove of interest to synthetic chemists, particularly in the areas of medicinal chemistry, materials science and total synthesis.

Read this HOT Chem Comm article today (free to access until the  7th of December 2012):

Transition metal-free direct C–H bond thiolation of 1,3,4-oxadiazoles and related heteroarenes

Liang-Hua Zou, Jens Reball, Jakob Mottweiler and Carsten Bolm, Chem. Commun., 2012, 48, 11307–11309

Published on behalf of Kevin Murnaghan, Chemical Communications web science writer.

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