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Constitution and Configuration


Welcome to this course on Stereochemistry
which is a basic subject branch of chemistry. The course has been designed to primarily
focus on the fundamental aspects.. Now stereochemistry like any other branch of sub-disciplines has
emerged from a historical perspective. The subject area is fundamentally important and
is applicable to not only to chemistry, but also to various other branches of sciences
like biology and medicine, in particular. Why is the subject so important? That is because
of many reasons. the primary reason is that the world that we are living in today, is
a chiral world. What does it mean? That means it is made up of systems which have a handedness.
Handedness lies in the nature of the two hands. If I see the two hands, they look almost the
same but they are not same. This is because you cannot superimpose one hand on top of
each other. (remember! Exactly similar objects (clones of a particular object) are always
superimposable). The reason for the two hands not the same
lies in their 3D-geometry that is the way the fingers are aligned. Similar things happen
in the molecular world. I have already said, we live in a chiral world and that means that
all the living systems that are there, they are made up of molecules which exhibit this
type of handedness. The stereochemistry is a subject which deals with the property of
the molecule that are controlled by the attached functionalities in three-dimensional space.
Chemistry as a subject developed on the basis of function, reactivity and structure of molecules
but purely looking them at a two-dimensional platform. That means the chemistry what was
known earlier was two-dimensional chemistry. Basically we looked at molecules from a two-dimensional
aspect. Since this is the 1st class of stereochemistry
so I thought that I will introduce the course instructor which is myself, Professor Amit
Basak and my teaching assistants, you can see the names, Arundhati Mandal, Eshani Das,
and Monisha Singha. They will help in answering your queries and they will also upload the
questions and the other teaching materials.They will also try to dispel any doubt that you
have while going through this course using the forum available for this course.
The problem of stereochemistry lies with the visualization of molecules in three-dimensional
space because you do not have the luxury of having a molecular model in your hand when
you see them in an examination hall. What you have to do if you have a problem? You
will need to visualize these in three-dimension and then try to figure out that what would
be the perfect geometry, how these interact with other systems.
This is the most difficult part of stereochemistry; that is the visualization of molecules just
by thought process in three-dimensional space. Now, let me make little clearer. What is the
problem between this two-dimensional chemistry I was talking about. Before I do that let me show you what are
the different modules that are there in this course. These are already put in the way when
I think you can go through these 8 modules that are orchestrated in such a fashion that
slowly you would learn how to draw the three-dimensional structure and then try to analyze their interrelationship
and then finally we will come to the reactivity of these molecules and the reactions involving
with these molecules. So basically this is a very fundamental undergraduate
course at the BSc level and I do hope that initially there may be some difficulties in
visualization and conceptualization of this 3-D molecules but later on, I am confident
that if you go through this course, you will also feel confident like me in
conceptualizing 3D structures, the reactivity of molecules which can exhibit three-dimensional
geometry. Now, I again come back to the definition of
stereochemistry. It is a function of, molecule in three-dimensional space. I can clarify
it little bit. If you take benzyle ehyde vs ortho methoxy benzyledehyde, you know that
the carbonyl group in benzaldehyde is more susceptible to nucleophilic addition because
of greater electrophilicity of the carbonyl carbon.
Both these two aldehydes react with a nucleophile, like X- but their reactivity is little bit
different; their rate of reaction will be different because of the electronic effect
of this methoxy group vs the hydrogen. What are these electronic effects? That is the
– I and + R. So here the reactivity difference comes from the electronic effects..
I am saying is not that the methoxy is pointing in this direction and that is the cause of
difference in the activity of this carbonyl vs the other carbonyl. While if you take the
completely reduced system of these 2 molecules especially the methoxy compound, If you reduce
it, all the double bonds are reduced. you get what is called a cyclohexyl system. And
when you reduce, you have a a very interesting situation and that this the aldehyde may be
aligned on the same face as the methoxy group or the aldehyde may be aligned in the opposite
face of the methoxy group. And because of this relationship, which is
a geometrical relationship, the reactivity of these carbonyls will be different. And
this difference now comes as a result of the different geometrical relationship between
the methoxy and the aldehyde groups. In benzaldehyde case, again I repeat, the methoxy is exerting
electronic effects as compared to the hydrogen and that is the reason for their difference
in reactivity. So the activity of the reduced aldehyde, now
is dependent on the steric disposition, that means the three-dimensional disposition of
the methoxy group in space, its relation to the aldehyde. So that is a very simplified
way of describing what is stereochemistry. Now this subject did not evolve from a very
rational approach like many other subjects. Take for example, the discovery of medicines,
Many of the medicines have discovered by chance and then people know how these medicines worker
and then developed newer medicines. Similarly stereochemistry also developed by
chance by trial and error, by serendipitous discovery. And then people finally come out
and explain what was happening. what was the serendipitous observation, why was it happening. I will tell you the historical perspective
of the development of the subject. Now it all started with the property of light which
we know that it is electromagnetic it is an electromagnetic wave. So there are 2 vectors,
electrical vector, electrical waves and a magnetic vector, a magnetic wave and both
are perpendicular to each other. Now if you consider only the electric vector, so what
happens, in normal light the vibrations, the electrical wave vibrations, are taking place
in all directions, in all directions that is possible around a point.
That means if I take this, this is the light passing from here to there. Then the wave
actually is taking place in every possible place in every possible direction. So basically
it encompasses the whole 360 degree around this axis of migration of the light. That
is the normal light. Now in the 17th century, the Dutch astronomer, Huygens, had discovered
what is called plane polarised light. This means what I was telling earlier that
the wave was vibrating in all possible directions. That is the normal light. But when it passes
through a special type of glass which is made up of some crystals, something else happens.
It allows only the vibrations which are occurring in a particular plane and then the light that
comes out, all the vibrations are taking place in a particular plane and that is what is
called plane polarised light. In this case because I am showing it is in
the horizontal direction, so that will be called horizontally polarised. But actually
these are what are called either linearly polarised light or for you as a beginner,
you may just call it as plane polarised light. And the plane in which the vibrations are
taking place is called the plane of polarization. This happens when light passes through a transparent
plate made up of a special kind of a crystal. For example, crystal of calcium carbonate
which is known as calcite, they have this special property. Not all crystals will do
this. Now if you allow this plane polarised light to travel through another crystal which
can also produce plane polarised light thent what happens? If you now have these crystals
or this plate aligned in such a direction thatl it will have the plane of polarisation
perpendicular to the plane of polarisation that the 2nd crystal is is generating.
In that case, the question is what is the outcome? This will completely block the propagation
of the light on the right site. On the other hand if you rotate this and ultimately by
90 degree, then what happens? The axis of polarisation of both the plates will become
aligned and then the light will come out. So using these two plates, you can actually
analyse whether if you put a compound in between the plates, the light going from here to there
or from left to right, then what happens? Suppose the plane of polarisation is rotated
while passing through the compound. Then the light which comes out of the 2nd plate will
be blocked. You will have to rotate the 2nd plate in order to align with the plane of
polarization . Then light will come out with full intensity as before. . And so it all started with the plane polarised
light and its interaction with some special types of molecules. People became interested
to know how these molecules behave when plane polarised light passes through these in solution
or in liquid state. And very interestingly, they found the following: .
is the first crystalline plate by the way is called polariser. So it will produce the
plane polarised light and suppose the vibrations are taking place in a vertical direction.
When it goes through the solution, if the solution does not change the plane of polarisation,
the plane of polarisation remains vertical. Now you put the other plate to view the light
coming out of the solution The 2nd plate is called an analyser (so called because you
are analysing whether there is any perturbation in the plane of polarisation of this light).
So using this analyser, you can now check whether there is any rotation in the plane
of polarization while passing through the solution of the sample. People started doing
this sort of experiments using different types of molecules. And what they found that there
are some molecules which rotate this plane of polarisation either clockwise or in anticlockwise
fashion and there are some molecules which do not.
So if it rotates, suppose this is an example where the plane of polarisation is getting
rotated in a clockwise direction and how do we know it? You rotate the analyser so that
the axis becomes aligned to the rotated plane of polarisation. Now you can see the light
coming out from the analyser. So by the amount of rotation that is needed to see the light
coming out, that will be the amount of rotation that has occurred while light is going through
the solution . Biot, a French scientist who first discovered
this phenomenon that there are some molecules where if you pass the plane polarised light
that undergoes rotation that means the plane of polarization undergoes rotation and then
you can find the amount of rotation and that is characteristic of the sample. But as I
told you, this does not happen with all compounds. There are some particular compounds which
have this typical property and he described the phenomenona by saying that the molecules
are showing optical activity and these molecules he called optically active molecules. The
reason for this rotation of plane of polarisation was not known at that time. Then what happened? After this event, Louis Pasteur, the famous
French chemist came into the picture. So what he did? At that time, known as tartaric acid
was known. It was obtained from various sources like it can be obtained from fermentation
of grape juice. He isolated this tartaric acid, and then did a crystallization experiment.
This tartaric acid obtained from grape juice fermentation was called Racemic acid. And
this Racemic acid, he crystallised as the sodium ammonium salt because it is a dicarboxylic
acid. So one is sodium, one hydrogen is replaced by sodium and the other one by ammonium. So
it is a sodium ammonium salt. And then he crystallised it and what he noticed that there
are two kinds of crystals that were obtained. And using using a microscope, he could separate
these two kinds of crystals. And then he could find that this one set of crystals is the
perfect mirror image of the other crystal. And then with the separated crystals, he analysed
them. That means he wanted to know what is the effect on the plane polarized light when
it passes through these crystals but the crystals are in solution now.
So basically Racemic tartaric acid was divided into two sets of crystals, these crystals
were mirror images of each other and then when light passes through these crystals,
he found that one set of crystals is rotating the light in a clockwise direction, the other
set of crystals which are in solution, they are rotating the light in the other, that
is in the anticlockwise direction. So the overall observation is that basically
you have the same molecule, tartaric acid. In two-dimensional chemistry, this looked
to be only one compound but because they have different rotating power,, they cannot be
the same molecule. So the same, the molecule which looks the same in two-dimensional geometry,
Pasteur has shown that actually they can be consisting of two different sets of molecules.
So that actually is the beginning of the three-dimensional chemistry which is now called stereochemistry.
Thus Pasteur laid the foundation of stereochemistry. But the question is why? How can you really
explain this type of phenomena that where you have the same molecular formula, same
type of connectivity but you can have two systems generated out of that? But before
that, Pasteur actually did another experiment. See, apart from Racemic acid which can be
separated into two sets of crystals, he also studied another form of tartaric acid.
He found another form of tartaric acid, the same molecule formula, same constitution.
That means, same type of atoms attached to similar type of atoms. And then he found that
this tartaric acid which was called mesotartaric acid, which he failed to separate it into
two isomers unlike racemic acid and then he found that this does not rotate the plane
of plane polarised light. So this is again different from the earlier Racemic acid that
he obtained from the grapefruit juice. Thus now we have 3 types of tartaric acid,
one is this mesotartaric acid which cannot be separated into two different crystalline
forms, that means it is basically a single compound,. And on the other hand, you have
the tartaric acid which was obtained from grapefruit juice, at that time it was called
Racemic acid. It consists of two types of tartaric acid, one was called dextro tartaric
acid because it was rotating the plane of polarized light in the clockwise direction,
and the other one is the levo tartaric acid because it was rotating the light in the other
direction, that means counterclockwise or anticlockwise direction. However, Pasteur could not explain why this
phenomena is happening. That means, the molecule having the same molecular formula, same constitution
but how can it exist in 3 different forms? In 1874, Van’t Hoff and Le Bel, they proposed
that this is because of the existence of carbon in tartaric acid where the carbon is attached
to 4 different groups. Again I just go back to the previous experiment,
if you consider the tartaric acid structure, you see that there is a carbon. Usually we
do not put the hydrogen which is attached to the carbon. So that is why, the hydrogen
is missing. So the carbon has a hydrogen, has a carboxylic acid, has OH and this whole
group. That means 4 different groups are attached to this carbon and as these 4 different groups
are attached to a carbon, according to Vant Hoff and Le Bel, these groups will be tetrahedrally
disposed. And because of this tetrahedral arrangement,
they said that if a carbon has this 4 different groups attached to it, then you can generate
2 molecules out of it and one will be the mirror image of the other. And they can exist
as a pair of isomers. This is the breakthrough concept. Remember, it is only 1874. At that
time, the tetrahedral geometry of carbon by sp3 hybridisation was not known.
So it was a pure speculation or a brilliance from these 2 scientists who could propose
the tetrahedral geometry of carbon because they knew that if the carbon is flat, square
planar, then you cannot generate these type of systems out of it. So just from geometric
concept, they developed this tetrahedral geometry of carbon. So what is the ultimate? At first, it was
the development of plane polarised light. Then the observation that some molecules rotate
the plane of plane polarised light. The 3rd is discovery of tartaric acid. So it all started
with tartaric acid. And the tartaric acid exists in in 3 different forms And finally
Van’t Hoff and Le Bel’s proposition, They postulated that this is because of the existence
of a carbon with 4 different groups and you can generate 2 different molecules out of
this. So that takes care of the slides. Now I will show you, I will start from Van’t
Hoff and Le Bel, what they said I will show you in a model. See, if you look at this, this system, that
there is a carbon, there is a green atom, there is a blue atom, there is a white atom
and a red atom. So this is a tetrahedral carbon with 4 different groups and if you take a
mirror image of this and I can take a mirror image of this, I can build up this molecule.
They you can see that they are mirror images of each other.
But if you would now want to see whether they are identical or not, you try to what is called
the principle of superposition. So you want to put one on top of each other and then see
whether they are superimposable, that means all the green atoms or blue atoms or red atoms
or the white atoms, they match or they fall on top of one another or not. So that is what
is called superimposition. So you apply that superimposition principle.
Now whatever you do, if you try to match the green and the blue, you see there is a mismatch
between the red and the white. Here also, there is a mismatch between the red and the
white. If you want to match the red ones and the green ones, now what happens, you see
there is a mismatch between the blue and the between the blue and the white.
So basically you cannot superimpose these 2 molecules. So they are mirror images, they
are different. So that is the starting point as I said. So they are now isomers because
you know what are isomers? Isomers are molecules with the same molecular formula but having
different properties. That means a different molecule with same molecular formula are called
isomers, . So let us start with the isomerism which is
a very important concept in, not only in stereochemistry but also in two-dimensional chemistry we know.
And we can now subdivide this isomerism into 2 classes, one was based on two-dimensional
chemistry and that is the kind of isomerism you are exposed to, and is called constitutional
isomerism. Now what is meant by constitution? Constitution
is nothing but what is called the connectivity. That means if I have a 3 carbon system and
then if I have OH at C1 positio. In another molecule, suppose the OH is attached at the
C2, . Now what is the difference between these 2 molecules?
The difference is in the connectivity. Here, the terminal carbon is connected to OH, here
the middle carbon is connected to OH. So that is what, that means they have different constitution.
Constitution means the connectivity. So this is also isomerism but that will be called
constitutional isomerism. So you have a set of constitutional isomerism.
Similar is, in constitutional isomerism, you have different branches, you have different
subdivisions. These are all known. Like one is called chain isomerism where the carbon
chain is different. So if you have 4 carbon system, you can grow this 4 carbon system
in this fashion also. So again the Constitution is different. This is N butane and this is
2 methyl butane. They are different molecules because their
Constitution is different. So but that is called chain isomerism. Then you have you
have positional isomerism like this example, positional isomerism, the hydroxy group changes
position from here to there. So that is called positional isomerism. And another class of
constitutional isomerism is what is called functional group isomerism.
I am not again putting the hydrogens. So this is the ether molecule. So you this is ethyl
methyl ether. You can draw another molecule with the same molecular formula but that will
be called propanol, one propanol. So that is what is called functional group isomerism.
So you have 3 types, chain isomerism, then positional isomerism and you have functional
group isomerism. But this is two-dimensional chemistry, again
I repeat. The more important one which is relevant to our subject is this, is the other
part where the Constitution is same. But the molecules are different and that is called
stereo isomerism. So is the Constitution is different, that means connectivity, atom connectivity
is different. Then if they fall into the class of constitutional isomerism.
If the connectivity is same but the molecules are still different like tartaric acid as
I showed where where the connectivities are all same but you have 3 different types of
tartaric acid. So then the concept of stereo isomerism comes. So what are stereo isomers
then? Molecules with same molecular formula, with same functional groups, with same Constitution,
so what the difference? The difference is the arrangement of the groups
in the three-dimensional space such that is, they are the stereoisomers. Now in stereo
isomerism you have again two different types of stereo isomerism, one is called Enantiomerism
and the other is called Diastereo isomerism. Okay? We will discuss, we will start from
this stereo isomerism, Enantio and Diastereo from now on, okay.
Enantiomers are molecules which are mirror images, non-superimposable mirror images of
each other. Like what I showed about the Racemic tartaric acid which was resolved into 2 sets
of crystals, one crystal was mirror image of the other crystal but they are not superimposable.
They are different. Similarly molecules, if you look at the molecular
level, molecules which are stereoisomers and mirror images, non-superimposable mirror images
of each other, they are called Enantiomers whereas molecules which have same Constitution,
same functional groups, same connectivity, but they are not mirror images of each other
and they are called diastereomers or you can say the molecules are exhibiting Diastereo
isomerism okay? Okay, let us wipe this out now. Let us concentrate
on the 1st on the Enantiomerism. So Enantiomers are what? Enantiomers again I repeat, are
molecules which are non-superimposable, are stereo isomers which are non-superimposable
on each other, which are non-superimposable mirror images of each other. They are called
Enantiomers and they have the typical property of rotating the plane of plane polarised light.
So Enantiomer is always a pair, Enantiomeric pair. So one is the mirror image of the other.
So if I have a A, I have a mirror image of A. If this has got a + rotation, so I can
have a mirror image which will have a – rotation. So they are a pair of Enantiomers okay. So
Enantiomerism is directly connected to optical activity. So if you take just one Enantiomer
and pass the light, this light will be rotated clockwise or anticlockwise direction.
One thing one should remember that this rotation when we tell, we have to view the rotation
from against the propagation of the light. So if light moves from here to there, the
Observer is here, the Observer I should be here and then he will see whether it is rotating
clockwise or anticlockwise. This is very important because if you look from this side then the
clockwise becomes anticlockwise and the anticlockwise becomes clockwise.
So basically what when the chemists measure the optical rotation of a molecule, what is
the optical rotation? That means the degree of rotation that what the molecule does onto
the plane of plane polarised light. So we have to view against the propagation of the
light. Then you can say that whether it is clockwise rotation or it is anticlockwise
rotation. Now by the way, clockwise rotation is also
called dextro as I already mentioned, dextro rotate any molecule, if the molecule rotates
the plane of the plane polarised light in the clockwise direction, that is called dextro
rotatory molecule and the other one, will be called liver rotatory molecule means liver
rotatory molecule. Rotate the plane of plane polarised light into the left side.
The question is, we know that they form superimposable mirror image, a non-superimposable mirror
images sorry, they form a non-superimposable mirror image system. But what makes it what
is the cause of this rotation? What is the genesis of this optical activity? Okay? Now
by the way, another terminology is there that molecules which can rotate the plane of plane
polarised light, they are, earlier I said, they are optically active compounds, they
are also called chiral molecules okay? Chiral molecules, like the two hands, one
hand is the mirror image of the other. But they are not superimposable as I said and
this is hand. So if I consider this as a molecule, so if light passes through this, the light
will suffer rotation. If light passes through this, that will also suffer rotation but the
2 rotations will be just opposite to each other okay? This is earlier it used to be
called handedness but the same thing is, the modern day we call it chirality.
So now we can summarise little better that what we have learnt is that there are molecules
which have the same molecule formula, same connectivity, same functional group but they
can be different. They are called stereo isomerism and that stereo isomerism is arising because
of the disposition, different disposition of groups in the three-dimensional space.
Then we have seen that there are 2 sets of stereo isomers, one is called Enantiomers
and the other set is called Diastereomers. Enantiomers have non-superimposable mirror
images and Diastereomers are, they are not mirror images of each other but they are stereoisomers
okay? Then Enantiomers have the property of rotating
the plane of plane polarised light. I have not concentrate in we will back to the Diastereomers
later on but let us 1st concentrate on the Enantiomers. Because they are chiral, they
have the capability of rotating the plane of plane polarised light. Now comes the bigger
issue that why this molecules which have non-resolvable or which have non-superimposable mirror images,
why do they rotate the plane of plane polarised light, okay? So that will be the next half
an hour we will discuss the genesis of this optical activity.

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