Identifying Molecular Structural Aromaticity for Hydrocarbon Classification
Determination of aromaticity in hydrocarbons may be as simple as determining the average bond length for the molecule of interest. This would greatly assist in classifying the nature of hydrocarbon chemistry, especially for large molecules such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) where today's aromatic classification methods are prohibitively expensive. The average C-C bond lengths for a test set of known aromatic, antiaromatic, and aliphatic cyclic hydrocarbons are computed here, and they show strong delineating patterns for the structural discernment of these aromaticity classifications. Aromatic molecules have average C-C bond lengths of 1.41 Å or less with the largest molecules, PAHs, having the longest average C-C bond lengths; aliphatic species have such lengths of 1.50 Å or more; and antiaromatic species fall between the two. Consequently, a first-order guess as to the aromaticity of a system may simply arise from its geometry. Although this prediction will likely have exceptions, such simple screening can easily classify most cases, and more advanced techniques can be brought to bear on the cases that lie in the boundaries. Benchmarks for hydrocarbons are provided here, but other classes of molecular structural aromaticity likely will have to be defined on an ad hoc basis.