Dynamic interaction of theory and experiment: total determination of the gas-phase molecular structure of tri-tert-butylphosphine oxide (OPBu3t)

S L Hinchley, M F Haddow, D W H Rankin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review


A new method to aid the determination of structures of sterically crowded molecules in the gas phase by dynamically linking the gas-phase electron diffraction (GED) refinement process with computational methods has been developed. The procedure involves refining the heavy-atom skeleton of the molecule using the GED data while continually updating the light-atom positions during the refinement using computational methods, in this case molecular mechanics. This removes errors associated with the assumption of local symmetry for the light-atom groups, which can affect the final values of the heavy-atom parameters. The refinement of the molecular structure of tri-tert-butyl phosphine oxide has been used to illustrate this new technique, which we call the DYNAMITE (DYNAMic Interaction of Theory and Experiment) method. Re-examination of the structure using this method has resulted in a shorter P-O distance than was found in a less sophisticated anaylsis, and is consistent with the molecule being regarded as O=PBu3t, rather than O--(P+Bu3t).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)384-391
Number of pages8
JournalDalton Transactions
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2004

Cite this