Department Chair:  Ilan Benjamin Department Manager:  Derek DeMarco
Graduate Adviser: Karen Meece Administrative Assistant: Katie Cramton
Undergraduate Adviser:  Marla Hesselink Undergraduate Adviser: Rexton Lynn
Instructional Lab Manager:  Lori Etow
Department Office:  (831) 459-4002 Adminstrative Office:  PSB, Room 230
Claude F Bernasconi
  • Title
    • Distinguished Professor
  • Division Physical & Biological Sciences Division
  • Department
    • Chemistry & Biochemistry Department
  • Phone
  • Email
  • Fax
  • Website
  • Office Location
    • Physical Sciences Building, 350
    • PSB 350
  • Office Hours MW 10:30 am-12:30 pm and F 10:30 am-12:00 noon
  • Mail Stop Chemistry
  • Faculty Areas of Expertise Chemistry

Summary of Expertise

Kinetic studies of fast reactions, organic reaction mechanisms, acid-base catalysis, proton transfers, nucleophilic reactions, organometallic reactions, ab initio molecular orbital calculations

Research Interests

Physical and Mechanistic Organic Chemistry and Organometallic Chemistry, Chemical Reactivity, Kinetics, Ab Initio Calculations

The main research interests of Claude Bernasconi, described in more detail on The Bernasconi Research Group Home Page, center on problems of mechanism, structure-reactivity relationships, intrinsic barriers of reactions, and catalysis in organic and organometallic reactions. Specifically he would like to improve our understanding of why certain reactions have high activation barriers while others have low barriers even though their thermodynamic driving force may be the same. This is one of the most fundamental questions one may ask about a chemical process. The specific reactions which are under current study include proton transfers and reactions of nucleophiles with electrophiles such as activated olefins, vinylic compounds, and transition metal carbene complexes. Main research tools comprise a variety of kinetic methods, including fast-reaction techniques such as the stopped-flow and the temperature-jump relaxation methods, and also computational methods. Bernasconi’s considerable expertise in the use of kinetic methods has led him to write the book Relaxation Kinetics, and he is the editor of the most recent edition of Investigation of Rates and Mechanisms of Reactions, in the series Techniques of Chemistry. More recently, Bernasconi's research has expanded into ab initio molecular orbital calculations of transition states of proton transfer processes.

Bernasconi has been an Alfred P. Sloan Fellow and has been elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He has enjoyed continuous support from the National Science Foundation.

Biography, Education and Training

B.S., M.S., Ph.D., Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zürich
Postdoctoral fellow, Max-Planck-Institute for Physical Chemistry

Selected Publications

  • C. F. Bernasconi and P. J. Wenzel, “Effect of Transition State Aromaticity and Antiaromaticity on Intrinsic Barrier of Proton Transfers in Aromatic and Antiaromatic Heterocyclic Systems. An Ab Initio Study,” J. Org. Chem. 75, 8422-8434 (2010).
  • C. F. Bernasconi, “The Principle of Nonperfect Synchronization,” Adv. Phys. Org. Chem. 44, 223-324 (2010).
  • C. F. Bernasconi and Z. Rappoport, “Recent Advances in SNV Reactions,” Acc. Chem. Res., 42, 993-1003 (2009).
  • M. Karni, C. F. Bernasconi, and Z. Rappoport, “The Role of Negative Hyperconjugation and Anomeric Effects in the Stabilization of the Intermediate in SNV Reactions,” J. Org. Chem. 73, 2980-2994 (2008).
  • C. F. Bernasconi, P. J. Wenzel and M. L. Ragains, “Proton Transfers in Aromatic and Antiaromatic Systems. How Aromatic or Antiaromatic Is the Transition State? An Ab Initio Study,” J. Am. Chem. Soc. 130, 4934-4944 (2008)
  • C. F. Bernasconi, M. Pérez-Lorenzo and S. D. Brown, “Kinetics of the Deprotonation of Methylnitroacetate by Amines: Unusually High Intrinsic Rate Constants for a Nitroalkane,” J. Org. Chem. 72, 4416-4423 (2007).
  • .C. F. Bernasconi, M. L. Ragains, and S. Bhattacharya, “Reactions that Generate Aromatic Molecules: Is Aromatic Stabilization Less or More Advanced than Bond Changes at the Transition State? Kinetic and Thermodynamic Acidities of Rhenium Carbene Complexes,” J. Am. Chem. Soc. 125, 12328-12336 (2003).
  • C. F. Bernasconi, M. Ali and J. C. Gunter, “Kinetic and Thermodynamic Acidities of Substituted 1-Benzyl-1-methoxy-2-nitroethylenes. Strong Reduction of the Transition State Imbalance Compared to Other Nitroalkanes,” J. Am. Chem. Soc. 125, 151-157 (2003).
  • C. F. Bernasconi, “The Physical Organic Chemistry of Fischer Carbene Complexes,” Adv. Phys. Org. Chem. 37, 137-237 (2002).
  • C. F. Bernasconi and W. Sun, “Physical Organic Chemistry of Transition Metal Carbene Complexes. 24. Thermodynamic and Kinetic Acidities of Phenyl Substituted (Benzylmethoxycarbene)pentacarbonylchromium(0) Complexes. Is There a Transition State Imbalance?” J. Am. Chem. Soc. 124, 2299-2304 (2002).
  • C. F. Bernasconi, R. J. Ketner, M. L. Ragains, X. Chen, Z. Rappoport, “Unraveling Structure-Reactivity Relationships in SNV Reactions: Kinetics of the Reactions of Methoxy¬benzylidenemalononitrile, 2-(Methylthiobenzylidene)-1,3-indandione, 2-(Benzyl¬thio¬benzyl¬idene-1,3-indan¬dione, and Methyl-α-nitro¬cinnamate with OH– and Thiolate Ions in Aqueous DMSO,” J. Am. Chem. Soc. 123, 2155-2164 (2001).
  • C. F. Bernasconi and P. J. Wenzel, “Carbon-to-Carbon Identity Proton Transfer from Allene, Ketene, Ketenimine and Thioketene to Their Respective Conjugate Anions in the Gas Phase. An Ab Initio Study,” J. Am. Chem. Soc. 123, 7146-7153 (2001).