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Making and Breaking of Chemical Bond Monitored for the First Time

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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 bond formation, both in terms of the increasing participation of electrons and the magnetic interaction 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 atoms 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 stabilising the pathway by which bonds are formed and broken.”

Rees GJ et al. Mapping of N−C Bond Formation from a Series of Crystalline Peri-Substituted Naphthalenes by Charge Density and Solid-State NMR Methodologies. Ang Chem, Volume 60, Issue 44; October 25, 2021;Pages 23878-23884. doi:10.1002/anie.202111100

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