Gas-phase structures of molecules containing heavy p-block elements
Wann, Derek A
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Gas-phase electron diffraction (GED) is the method of choice for determining the structures of molecules containing between two and 100 atoms, free from intermolecular interaction. However, for many molecules it becomes necessary to augment the experimental GED data with information from other sources. The SARACEN method, used routinely at Edinburgh when determining structures, allows computed parameters from ab initio and density functional theory (DFT) calculations to be used as extra data in the GED refinement process. This thesis describes the determinations of the gas-phase structures of molecules that contain heavy p-block elements, including examples from Groups 13, 14, 15 and 16. Each of the compounds studied was solid at room temperature, requiring heating to produce a suitable vapour pressure and vaporisation rate and testing the existing electron diffraction apparatus to its limits. Use was made of a new heated reservoir, recently developed in Edinburgh by a previous PhD student, which has allowed compounds to be studied that were previously inaccessible. The molecules that were studied during the course of this degree are: In(P3C2But2), In(P2C3But3), Sn(P2C2But2), Sb2(C6F6)3, Bi2(C6F6)3, Se(SCH3)2 and Te(SCH3)2. While determining the structures of these molecules, accurate theoretical geometries have been obtained using both ab initio and DFT methods. As a result a better understanding has been achieved of which methods are suitable for use in calculating the structures of molecules with heavy p-block elements. The use of pseudopotentials as opposed to all-electron basis sets proved necessary when performing calculations on such large molecules with heavy atoms. The extent to which these pseudopotentials, especially ones that consider very few electrons to be in the valence shell of an atom, can affect the calculated geometries has been shown to be considerable. In addition, methods being developed to compute vibrational corrections for gas-phase structure determination have been extended to the crystalline phase. Molecular dynamics simulations have been used to derive the effects of vibrations on average nuclear positions, relative to equilibrium positions. The differences, when applied to coordinates obtained experimentally by neutron diffraction yield experimental equilibrium structures.