Stereochemistry of Simple Molecules inside Nanotubes and Fullerenes: Unusual Behavior of Usual Systems

Molecules. 2020 May 23;25(10):2437. doi: 10.3390/molecules25102437.


Over the past three decades, carbon nanotubes and fullerenes have become remarkable objects for starting the implementation of new models and technologies in different branches of science. To a great extent, this is defined by the unique electronic and spatial properties of nanocavities due to the ramified π-electron systems. This provides an opportunity for the formation of endohedral complexes containing non-covalently bonded atoms or molecules inside fullerenes and nanotubes. The guest species are exposed to the force field of the nanocavity, which can be described as a combination of electronic and steric requirements. Its action significantly changes conformational properties of even relatively simple molecules, including ethane and its analogs, as well as compounds with C-O, C-S, B-B, B-O, B-N, N-N, Al-Al, Si-Si and Ge-Ge bonds. Besides that, the cavity of the host molecule dramatically alters the stereochemical characteristics of cyclic and heterocyclic systems, affects the energy of pyramidal nitrogen inversion in amines, changes the relative stability of cis and trans isomers and, in the case of chiral nanotubes, strongly influences the properties of R- and S- enantiomers. The present review aims at primary compilation of such unusual stereochemical effects and initial evaluation of the nature of the force field inside nanotubes and fullerenes.

Keywords: barrier of internal rotation; cis and trans isomers; computer simulation; conformational equilibrium; enantiomer; endocomplex; fullerene; nanotube; nitrogen pyramidal inversion.

Publication types

  • Review