Van der waals and polar intermolecular contact distances: quantifying supramolecular synthons

Ganguly, Parthasarathy ; Desiraju, Gautam R. (2008) Van der waals and polar intermolecular contact distances: quantifying supramolecular synthons Chemistry - An Asian Journal, 3 (5). pp. 868-880. ISSN 1861-4728

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Crystal structures are viewed as being determined by ranges and constraints on interatomic contact distances between neighboring molecules. These distances are considered to arise from environment-dependent atomic sizes, that is, larger sizes for isotropic, van der Waals type contacts and smaller sizes for more-polar, possibly ionic contacts. Although the idea of different, or anisotropic, radii for atoms is not new, we developed a method of obtaining atomic sizes that is based on a theoretical framework. Using different atomic sizes for the same atom in different environments, we were able to rationalize some structural observations and anomalies. For example, benzene with the Pbca structure may be described in terms of two types of C···H interactions: a longer contact largely of the van der Waals type, and a shorter, structure-determining type (Cδ -···Hδ +), which we term "n-polar". Our approach is illustrated with three examples: 1) the equivalence in crystal packing of fluorobenzene, benzonitrile, pyridine N-oxide, and pyridine/HF 1:1 molecular complex, all of which take the not-so-common tetragonal P41212 space group and are practically isomorphous; 2) the similarity of the Pa3 acetylene and Pbca benzene crystal structures; and 3) the equivalence between an increase in pressure and an increase in the "n-polar"contacts in Pbca benzene; in other words, the equivalence between hydrostatic pressure and chemical pressure. In the context of crystal engineering, we describe a method whereby the topological information conveyed in a supramolecular synthon is recast in a more quantitative manner. A particular synthon, and in turn the crystal structure to which it leads, is viable within small ranges of distances of its constituent atoms, and these distances are determined by chemical factors.

Item Type:Article
Source:Copyright of this article belongs to John Wiley and Sons.
Keywords:Atomic Radii; benzene; crystal Engineering; supramolecular Chemistry; Van Der Waals Radii
ID Code:11599
Deposited On:13 Nov 2010 14:11
Last Modified:16 May 2016 21:03

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