Research on Chemical Intermediates

, Volume 22, Issue 2, pp 137-143

First online:

The structural theory and physical organic chemistry

  • S. ChandrasekharAffiliated withDepartment of Organic Chemistry, Indian Institute of Science

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Woolley's revolutionary proposal that quantum mechanics does not sanction the concept of “molecular structure”—which is but only a “metaphor”—has fundamental implications for physical organic chemistry. On the one hand, the Uncertainty Principle limits the precision with which transition state structures may be defined; on the other, extension of the structure concept to the transition state may be unviable. Attempts to define transition states have indeed caused controversy. Consequences for molecular recognition, and a mechanistic classification, are also discussed.