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To Flip or Not To Flip? Assessing the Inversion Barrier of the Tetraphenylene Framework with Enantiopure 2,15-Dideuteriotetraphenylene and 2,7-Dimethyltetraphenylene

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posted on 02.01.2009, 00:00 authored by Hui Huang, Timothy Stewart, Matthias Gutmann, Takashi Ohhara, Nobuo Niimura, Yu-Xue Li, Jian-Feng Wen, Robert Bau, Henry N. C. Wong
Two chiral tetraphenylenes, 2,15-dideuteriotetraphenylene (7) and 2,7-dimethyltetraphenylene (15) were synthesized and resolved to address the tetraphenylene inversion barrier problem. Neutron diffraction investigation of enantiopure 7 showed that the molecule retained its chirality integrity during its synthesis from enantiopure precursors and therefore rules out the possibility of the tetraphenylene framework possessing a low-energy barrier to inversion. Thermal study on 15 and tetraphenylene 1 further revealed that their inversion barriers were not overcome up to 600 °C, at which temperature these compounds underwent skeletal contraction into triphenylene with activation energies of 62.8 and 58.2 kcal/mol, respectively. This result is supported by computational studies which yielded an inversion barrier of 135 kcal/mol for tetraphenylene as a consequence of the peri-hydrogen repulsions at its planar conformation.