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Putting pressure on aromaticity along with in situ experimental electron density of a molecular crystal

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Original article (peer-reviewed)
Author Casati, Nicola; Kleppe, Annette; Jephcoat, Andrew; Macchi, Piero
Project Chemical bonding and reactions in molecular crystals at high pressure
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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal Nature Communications
Volume (Issue) 7
Page(s) 10901
Title of proceedings Nature Communications
DOI 10.1038/ncomms10901

Open Access

Type of Open Access Publisher (Gold Open Access)


When pressure is applied, the molecules inside a crystal undergo significant changes of their stereoelectronic properties. The most interesting are those enhancing the reactivity of systems that would be otherwise rather inert at ambient conditions. Before a reaction can occur, however, a molecule must be activated, which means destabilized. In aromatic compounds, molecular stability originates from the resonance between two electronic configurations. Here we show how the resonance energy can be decreased in molecular crystals on application of pressure. The focus is on syn-1,6:8,13-Biscarbonyl[14]annulene, an aromatic compound at ambient conditions that gradually localizes one of the resonant configurations on compression. This phenomenon is evident from the molecular geometries measured at several pressures and from the experimentally determined electron density distribution at 7.7 GPa; the observations presented in this work are validated by periodic DFT calculations.