Volume 88 Issue 29 | p. 33 | Concentrates
Issue Date: July 19, 2010

Cyclobutadiene’s Crystal Structure Is … A Square

French scientists finally succeed in getting chemistry’s smallest conjugated ring to hold still for a picture
Department: Science & Technology
Keywords: cyclobutadiene, crystal structure

Cyclobutadiene may seem like kindergarten chemistry, but for crystallographers the molecule has been a highly sophisticated headache. For more than 40 years, the smallest cyclic hydrocarbon with conjugated double bonds has defied crystal structure analysis. The main problem has been that the molecule’s awkward 90° bonds are too unstable for the molecule to crystallize. The first step toward this milestone was achieved in 1991 when researchers figured out how to confine cyclobutadiene in a carcerand . . .

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