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Chemistry 125A: Freshman Organic Chemistry I - Lecture 33: Conformational Energy and Molecular Mechanics - Professor J. Michael McBride

Lecture 33: Conformational Energy and Molecular Mechanics

Understanding conformational relationships makes it easy to draw idealized chair structures for cyclohexane and to visualize axial-equatorial interconversion. After quantitative consideration of the conformational energies of ethane, propane, and butane, cyclohexane is used to illustrate the utility of molecular mechanics as an alternative to quantum mechanics for estimating such energies. To give useful accuracy this empirical scheme requires thousands of arbitrary parameters. Unlike quantum mechanics, it assigns strain to specific sources such as bond stretching, bending, and twisting, and van der Waals repulsion or attraction.

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