Benzoxazine Oligomers: Evidence for a Helical Structure from Solid-State NMR Spectroscopy and DFT-Based Dynamics and Chemical Shift Calculations
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A combination of molecular modeling, DFT calculations, and advanced solid-state NMR experiments is used to elucidate the supramolecular structure of a series of benzoxazine oligomers. Intramolecular hydrogen bonds are characterized and identified as the driving forces for ring-shape and helical conformations of trimeric and tetrameric units. In fast MAS (1)H NMR spectra, the resonances of the protons forming the hydrogen bonds can be assigned and used for validating and refining the structure by means of DFT-based geometry optimizations and (1)H chemical-shift calculations. Also supporting these proposed structures are homonuclear (1)H[bond](1)H double-quantum NMR spectra, which identify the local proton-proton proximities in each material. Additionally, quantitative (15)N[bond](1)H distance measurements obtained by analysis of dipolar spinning sideband patterns confirm the optimized geometry of the tetramer. These results clearly support the predicted helical geometry of the benzoxazine polymer. This geometry, in which the N...H...O and O...H...O hydrogen bonds are protected on the inside of the helix, can account for many of the exemplary chemical properties of the polybenzoxazine materials. The combination of advanced experimental solid-state NMR spectroscopy with computational geometry optimizations, total energy, and NMR spectra calculations is a powerful tool for structural analysis. Its results provide significantly more confidence than the individual measurements or calculations alone, in particular, because the microscopic structure of many disordered systems cannot be elucidated by means of conventional methods due to lack of long-range order.
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