Printer Friendly

Elusive bowtie pinned down.

Down the hall from the makers of the now-famous buckyballs, neighboring chemists have synthesized another long-sought carbonaceous compound and have given it an equally flip moniker. Their bowtie-shaped molecule, officially called spiropentadiene, but nicknamed bowtiediene, consists of five carbon and four hydrogen atoms. The compound had fascinated theoreticians -- and eluded experimentalists -- for decades because of the very strained configuration of its carbon atoms. Its simple structure would pack in so much energy that chemists could not figure out how to make it stay together.

But W.E. Billups and Michael M. Haley of Rice University in Houston accepted the challenge. And in the June 19 JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN CHEMICAL SOCIETY, they report producing the molecule.

"It's a classical molecule that will probably find its way into textbooks," William P. Dailey, an organic chemist from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, told SCIENCE NEWS. "I was very excited to hear about this."

The molecule, which resembles a bowtie with one side bent perpendicular to the other, belongs to a chemical family called the spiroalkenes, whose members possess a single carbon at their cores.

Even though they had never seenit, theoreticians were tantalized by the size and inherent instability of the hypothetical molecule, and had sought to predict its properties. Each end of the bow consists of a doubly bonded pair of carbon atoms; a hydrogen atom hangs off each outer carbon. "It's aesthetically pleasing because of its simplicity and its symmetry," says Dailey. Those double bonds, though separated in space, are close enough to interact and to greatly stress the molecule's structure, adding to its appeal to researchers.

To make bowtiediene, Billups and his co-workers placed an unusual silicon-based compound in a reaction apparatus designed to generate gaseous, high-energy compounds. They collected the product in a tube cooled by liquid nitrogen. When sufficiently chilled, the compound's carbons stayed together allowing them to perform analyses that confirmed its identity. The Rice team next plans to send a student to Germany to collaborate with researchers there in an attempt to find out whether the double bonds interact as theorized.
COPYRIGHT 1991 Science Service, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:synthesis of spiropentadiene, a carbonaceous compound nicknamed bowtiediene because it is shaped like a bowtie
Publication:Science News
Date:Jul 13, 1991
Words:347
Previous Article:A legacy of war: as the Gulf region chokes, the global climate breathes easier.
Next Article:New meaning for 'dry-roasted' peanuts.
Topics:


Related Articles
Crafting a miniature pagoda.
New materials and products will spur machinery evolution.
Carbonaceous meteorites and asteroids.
Rug-tail critters.
New considerations for old extruders.
Garrick-Aug Worldwide.
Garrick-Aug exclusive agent for Bow/Tie in Times Square.
Times Sq. Toys R Us commission causes suit.
SANTA'S GOT A BRAND-NEW WAG.
Smart moves in Times Square.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2016 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters