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  1. The Diels–Alder (DA) reaction, a classic cycloaddition reaction involving a diene and a dienophile to form a cyclohexene, is among the most versatile organic reactions. Theories have predicted thermodynamically unfavorable DA reactions on pristine graphene owing to its low chemical reactivity. We hypothesized that metals like Ni could enhance the reactivity of graphene towards DA reactions through charge transfer. The results indeed showed that metal substrates enhanced the reactivity of graphene in the DA reactions with a diene, 2,3-dimethoxy butadiene (DMBD), and a dienophile, maleic anhydride (MAH), with the activity enhancement in the order of Ni > Cu, and both are more reactive than graphene supported on silicon wafer. The rate constants were estimated to be two times higher for graphene supported on Ni than on silicon wafer. The computational results support the experimentally obtained rate trend of Ni > Cu, both predicted to be greater than unsupported graphene, which is explained by the enhanced graphene–substrate interaction reflected in charge transfer effects with the strongly interacting Ni. This study opens up a new avenue for enhancing the chemical reactivity of pristine graphene through substrate selection.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 31, 2023
  2. null (Ed.)
    Pristine graphene is fairly inert chemically, and as such, most application‐driven studies use graphene oxide, or reduced graphene oxide. Using substrates to modulate the reactivity of graphene represents a unique strategy in the covalent functionalization of this otherwise fairly inert material. We found that the reactivity of pristine graphene towards perfluorophenyl azide (PFPA) can be enhanced by a metal substrate on which graphene is supported. Results on the extent of functionalization, defect density, and reaction kinetics all show that graphene supported on Ni (G/Ni) has the highest reactivity toward PFPA, followed by G/Cu and then G/silicon wafer. DFT calculations suggest that the metal substrate stabilizes the physisorbed nitrene through enhanced electron transfer to the singlet nitrene from the graphene surface assisted by the electron rich metal substrate. The G/Ni substantially stabilizes the singlet nitrene relative to G/Cu and the free‐standing graphene. The product structure is also predicted to be substrate dependent. These findings open the opportunities to enhance the reactivity of pristine graphene simply through the selection of the substrate. This also represents a new and powerful approach to increasing the reactivity of singlet nitrene through direct electron communication with graphene.
  3. The halogen–π (X–π) interaction is an intermolecular interaction between the electron-poor region of bonded halogen atoms and aromatic rings. We report an experimental evaluation of the halogen–π (X–π) interaction using liquid chromatography with carbon-material coated columns providing strong π interactions in the normal phase mode. A C 70 -fullerene (C70)-coated column showed higher retentions for halogenated benzenes as the number of halogen substitutions increased as a result of X–π interactions. In addition, the strength of the X–π interaction increased in the order of F < Cl < Br < I. Changes to the UV absorption of C70 and the brominated benzenes suggested that the intermolecular interaction changed from the π–π interaction to X–π interaction as the number of bromo substitutions increased. Computer simulations also showed that the difference in dipole moments among structural isomers affected the strength of the π–π interaction. Furthermore, we concluded from small peak shifts in 1 H NMR and from computer simulations that the orbital interaction contributes to the X–π interactions. Finally, we succeeded in the one-pot separation of all isomers of brominated benzenes using the C70-coated column by optimizing the mobile phase conditions.
  4. Glycopolymers have gained increasing importance in investigating glycan-lectin interactions, as drug delivery vehicles and in modulating interactions with proteins. The synthesis of these glycopolymers is still a challenging and rigorous exercise. In this regard, the highly efficient click reaction, copper (I)-catalyzed alkyne-azide cycloaddition, has been widely applied not only for its efficiency but also for its tolerance of the appended carbohydrate groups. However, a significant drawback of this method is the use of the heavy metal catalyst which is difficult to remove completely, and ultimately toxic to biological systems. In this work, we present the synthesis of carbohydrate-grafted glycopolymers utilizing a mild and catalyst-free perfluorophenyl azide (PFPA)-mediated Staudinger reaction. Using this strategy, mannose (Man) and maltoheptaose (MH) were grafted onto the biodegradable poly(lactic acid) (PLA) by stirring a PFAA-functionalized PLA with a phosphine-derivatized Man or MH in DMSO at room temperature within an hour. The glycopolymers were characterized by 1H-NMR, 19F-NMR, 31P-NMR and FTIR.