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Logic Puzzle #1: The Missing Link

A great skill to master is the capability to conceptualize a fragment or structure directly off a spectrum without resorting to paper-and-pen work. This skill is learnt through lots of practice. Whenever partial information is available, an elucidator can conjure up a mental image of possibilities and should it be required instinctively hunt for any missing data.

In the following example, a set of fragments including 13C and 1H chemical shifts and long-range coupling information were extracted from an HMBC experiment (not shown). The green arrows represent the 2-3J coupling responses between the 3 equivalent methyl groups and the carbonyl’s quaternary carbon. Based on these restrictions, what fragment(s) support the data and is there anything missing?

LogicCCH3_1_May272010

 

To accommodate these restrictions, three potential fragments, assigned A, B and C, are shown below. Fragment A can be disregarded on the basis of the carbon valence. Fragment B is not a good candidate because the CH3 chemical shifts do not support the presence of an adjacent heteroatom. Fragment C seems to be the most logical choice. However, there is a missing quaternary carbon. The next step is to re-evaluate the NMR data in search of a weak 13C signal at ~40 ppm.

LogicCCH3_2_May272010

 

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