Journal of Chemical Physics, 140, American Institute of Physics, May 2014.
We report ab initio density functional theory electronic structure calculations of rotational barriers for t-butyl groups and their constituent methyl groups both in the isolated molecules and in central molecules in clusters built from the X-ray structure in four t-butyl aromatic compounds. The X-ray structures have been reported previously. We also report and interpret the temperature dependence of the solid state 1H nuclear magnetic resonance spin-lattice relaxation rate at 8.50, 22.5, and 53.0 MHz in one of the four compounds. Such experiments for the other three have been reported previously. We compare the computed barriers for methyl group and t-butyl group rotation in a central target molecule in the cluster with the activation energies determined from fitting the 1H NMR spin-lattice relaxation data. We formulate a dynamical model for the superposition of t-butyl group rotation and the rotation of the t-butyl group’ ;s constituent methyl groups. The four compounds are 2,7-di-t-butylpyrene, 1,4-di-t-butylbenzene, 2,6-di-t-butylnaphthalene, and 3-t-butylchrysene. We comment on the unusual ground state orientation of the t-butyl groups in the crystal of the pyrene and we comment on the unusually high rotational barrier of this t-butyl group.