Scientists monitor the formation of a chemical bond for the first time

Scientists monitor the formation of a chemical bond for the first time


Two similar molecules but with different degrees of bond formation shown by the dotted magenta line. Credit: Nottingham Trent University

A new study has for the first time been able to monitor the different stages of a chemical reaction, as one bond breaks and another forms. The work, involving Nottingham Trent University, the University of Southampton and the University of Warwick, has been successful in ‘trapping’ the stages in a crystalline state.

The different stages of a chemical reaction are considered to be very difficult to determine because you either have the starting material or the product and nothing in between.

The researchers have been able to measure and observe the degree of formation, both in terms of the increasing participation of electrons and the between the two atoms at either end of the bond, as the bond forms.

The study involved using high-quality X-Ray diffraction data and cutting-edge solid-state nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) techniques on crystalline materials.

The researchers studied a series of six molecules in which a bond between a nitrogen and carbon atom was partially formed to different degrees.

This meant that, for the first time, it was possible to follow the redistribution of electrons on bond formation, determined from accurately measured X-Ray diffraction on a single crystal.

Complementary NMR work monitored the magnetic interaction between the two as the bond formed.

“Our work provides the methods for studies on other bond forming processes,” said lead researcher John Wallis, Emeritus Professor in Nottingham Trent University’s School of Science and Technology.

“This is important because catalysts aim to speed up reactions by stabilizing the pathway by which bonds are formed and broken.”


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More information:
Gregory J. Rees et al, Mapping of N−C Bond Formation from a Series of Crystalline Peri‐Substituted Naphthalenes by Charge Density and Solid‐State NMR Methodologies, Angewandte Chemie International Edition (2021). DOI: 10.1002/anie.202111100

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Scientists monitor the formation of a chemical bond for the first time (2021, November 16)
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