A Theoretical Investigation of Novel Sila- and Germa-Spirocyclic Imines and Their Relevance for Electron-Transporting Materials and Drug Discovery

A new class of spirocyclic imines (SCIs) has been theoretically investigated by applying a variety of quantum chemical methods and basis sets. The uniqueness of these compounds is depicted by various peculiarities, e.g., the incidence of planar six-membered rings each with two imine groups (two π bonds) and the incorporation of the isosteres carbon, silicon, or germanium spiro centers. Additional peculiarities of these novel SCIs are mirrored by their three-dimensionality, the simultaneous occurrence of nucleophilic and electrophilic centers, and the cross-hyperconjugative (spiro-conjugation) interactions, which provoke charge mobility along the spirocyclic scaffold. Substitution of SCIs with strong electron-withdrawing substituents, like the cyano group or fluorine, enhances their docking capability and impacts their reactivity and charge mobility. To gain thorough knowledge about the molecular properties of these SCIs, their structures have been optimized and various quantum chemical concepts and models were applied, e.g., full NBO analysis and the frontier molecular orbitals (FMOs) theory (HOMO-LUMO energy gap) and the chemical reactivity descriptors derived from them. For the assessment of the charge density distribution along the SCI framework, additional complementary quantum chemical methods were used, e.g., molecular electrostatic potential (MESP) and Bader’s QTAIM. Additionally, using the aromaticity index NICS (nuclear independent chemical shift) and other criteria, it could be shown that the investigated cross-hyperconjugated sila and germa SCIs are spiro-aromatics of the Heilbronner Craig-type Möbius aromaticity.


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