Materials Science

Molecules that Should Not Exist
Dean J. Tantillo, UC Davis

Some chemists would argue that many molecules that exist should not. Why not? Some are predicted to be inherently unstable—they suffer from excessive strain or perhaps feel no impediment to changing their structures. Some violate “rules” of chemical bonding—containing, for example, atoms that associate with more neighbors than one would expect. Some simply appear to be inaccessible to humans constrained to employ known synthetic or biosynthetic chemical reactions for their creation. And the creation of some is believed, by chemists and non-chemists, to be unethical. Examples of molecules that should not exist for each of these reasons will be discussed. Such molecules span the fields of organic chemistry, inorganic chemistry, materials chemistry, natural products chemistry, astrochemistry and biological warfare.

Further reading:
Roald Hoffmann and Henning Hopf, Angewandte Chemie International Edition, 2008, 47, 4474-4481: “Learning From Molecules in Distress”

Roald Hoffmann, Paul von Rague Schleyer and Henry F. Schaefer III, Angewandte Chemie International Edition, 2008, 47, 7164-7167: “Predicting Molecules–More Realism, Please!”

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Materials Science

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