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J Am Chem Soc. 2003 Sep 17;125(37):11442-51.

On the viability of small endohedral hydrocarbon cage complexes: X@C4H4, X@C8H8, X@C8H14, X@C10H16, X@C12H12, AND X@C16H16.

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  • 1Center for Computational Quantum Chemistry, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia 30602, USA.


Small hydrocarbon complexes (X@cage) incorporating cage-centered endohedral atoms and ions (X = H(+), H, He, Ne, Ar, Li(0,+), Be(0,+,2+), Na(0,+), Mg(0,+,2+)) have been studied at the B3LYP/6-31G(d) hybrid HF/DFT level of theory. No tetrahedrane (C(4)H(4), T(d)()) endohedral complexes are minima, not even with the very small hydrogen atom or beryllium dication. Cubane (C(8)H(8), O(h)()) and bicyclo[2.2.2]octane (C(8)H(14), D(3)(h)()) minima are limited to encapsulating species smaller than Ne and Na(+). Despite its intermediate size, adamantane (C(10)H(16), T(d)()) can enclose a wide variety of endohedral atoms and ions including H, He, Ne, Li(0,+), Be(0,+,2+), Na(0,+), and Mg(2+). In contrast, the truncated tetrahedrane (C(12)H(12), T(d)()) encapsulates fewer species, while the D(4)(d)() symmetric C(16)H(16) hydrocarbon cage (see Table of Contents graphic) encapsulates all but the larger Be, Mg, and Mg(+) species. The host cages have more compact geometries when metal atoms, rather than cations, are inside. This is due to electron donation from the endohedral metals into C-C bonding and C-H antibonding cage molecular orbitals. The relative stabilities of endohedral minima are evaluated by comparing their energies (E(endo)) to the sum of their isolated components (E(inc) = E(endo) - E(cage) - E(x)) and to their exohedral isomer energies (E(isom) = E(endo) - E(exo)). Although exohedral binding is preferred to endohedral encapsulation without exception (i.e., E(isom) is always exothermic), Be(2+)@C(10)H(16) (T(d)(); -235.5 kcal/mol), Li(+)@C(12)H(12) (T(d)(); 50.2 kcal/mol), Be(2+)@C(12)H(12) (T(d)(); -181.2 kcal/mol), Mg(2+)@C(12)H(12) (T(d)(); -45.0 kcal/mol), Li(+)@C(16)H(16) (D(4)(d)(); 13.3 kcal/mol), Be(+)@C(16)H(16) (C(4)(v)(); 31.8 kcal/mol), Be(2+)@C(16)H(16) (D(4)(d)(); -239.2 kcal/mol), and Mg(2+)@C(16)H(16) (D(4)(d)(); -37.7 kcal/mol) are relatively stable as compared to experimentally known He@C(20)H(20) (I(h)()), which has an E(inc) = 37.9 kcal/mol and E(isom) = -35.4 kcal/mol. Overall, endohedral cage complexes with low parent cage strain energies, large cage internal cavity volumes, and a small, highly charged guest species are the most viable synthetic targets.

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