Aromaticity is a property of conjugated cycloalkenes in which the stabilization of the molecule is strong due to the ability of the electrons in the p-orbitals to delocalize and act as a framework to create a planar molecule.
The three general requirements for a compound to be aromatic are:
Among the many distinctive features of benzene, its aromaticity is the major contributor to why it is so unreactive. This section will try to clarify the theory of aromaticity and why aromaticity gives unique qualities that make these conjugated alkenes inert to compounds such as Br2 and even hydrochloric acid. It will also go into detail about the unusually large resonance energy due to the six conjugated carbons of benzene. For a more detailed look at the configuration of benzene, refer to the section on π molecular orbitals of benzene.
The delocalization of the p-orbital carbons on the sp2 hybridized carbons is what gives the aromatic qualities of benzene.
Basic Structue of Benzene
Because of the aromaticity of benzene, the resulting molecule is planar in shape with each C-C bond being 1.39 Å in length and each bond angle being 120°. You might ask yourselves how it's possible to have all of the bonds to be the same length if the ring is conjugated with both single (1.47 Å) and double (1.34 Å), but it is important to note that there are no distinct single or double bonds within the benzene. Rather, the delocalization of the ring makes each count as one and a half bonds between the carbons which makes sense because experimentally we find that the actual bond length is somewhere in between a single and double bond. Finally, there are a total of six p-orbital electrons that form the stabilizing electron clouds above and below the aromatic ring.
Evidence of Aromaticity: Heats of Hydrogenation
One of the ways to test the relative amounts of resonance energy in a molecule is to compare the heats of hydrogenation between similar compounds. For instance, if we compare cyclohexene, 1,3-cyclohexadiene, and benzene, we would expect that their heats of hydrogenation will increase since the number of double bonds increases respectively. However, experimental evidence suggests that the actual heat of hydrogenation for benzene is actually 49.3 kcal/mole, making it even more stable than the 1,3-cyclohexadiene even though it has two double bonds, compared to benzene's three double bonds. This characteristic can be attributed to the aromaticity of benzene which delocalizes the electrons of the six pi orbitals.
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