Influence of Aliphatic Chain Length on Structural, Thermal and Electrochemical Properties of n-alkylene Benzyl Alcohols: A Study of the Odd-Even Effect

Molecules. 2022 Jun 12;27(12):3781. doi: 10.3390/molecules27123781.


The century-old, well-known odd-even effect phenomenon is still a very attractive and intriguing topic in supramolecular and nano-scale organic chemistry. As a part of our continuous efforts in the study of supramolecular chemistry, we have prepared three novel aromatic alcohols (1,2-bis[2-(hydroxymethyl)phenoxy]butylene (Do4OH), 1,2-bis[2-(hydroxymethyl)phenoxy]pentylene (Do5OH) and 1,2-bis[2-(hydroxymethyl)phenoxy]hexylene (Do6OH)) and determined their crystal and molecular structures by single-crystal X-ray diffraction. In all compounds, two benzyl alcohol groups are linked by an aliphatic chain of different lengths (CH2)n; n = 4, 5 and 6. The major differences in the molecular structures were found in the overall planarity of the molecules and the conformation of the aliphatic chain. Molecules with an even number of CH2 groups tend to be planar with an all-trans conformation of the aliphatic chain, while the odd-numbered molecule is non-planar, with partial gauche conformation. A direct consequence of these structural differences is visible in the melting points-odd-numbered compounds of a particular series display systematically lower melting points. Crystal and molecular structures were additionally studied by the theoretical calculations and the melting points were correlated with packing density and the number of CH2 groups. The results have shown that the generally accepted rule, higher density = higher stability = higher melting point, could not be applied to these compounds. It was found that the denser packaging causes an increase in the percentage of repulsive H‧‧‧H interactions, thereby reducing the stability of the crystal, and consequently, the melting points. Another interesting consequence of different molecular structures is their electrochemical and antioxidative properties-a non-planar structure displays the highest oxidation peak of hydroxyl groups and moderate antioxidant activity.

Keywords: aliphatic chain; aromatic alcohols; crystal structures; melting point deviation; odd–even effect.

MeSH terms

  • Benzyl Alcohols*
  • Crystallography, X-Ray
  • Molecular Conformation
  • Molecular Structure


  • Benzyl Alcohols