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Nucleophilic Aromatic Substitution Reactions Described by the Local Electron Attachment Energy

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journal contribution
posted on 14.02.2017 by Joakim H. Stenlid, Tore Brinck
A local multiorbital electrophilicity descriptor, the local electron attachment energy [E(r)], is used to study the nucleophilic aromatic substitution reactions of SNAr and VNS (vicarious nucleophilic substitution). E(r) considers all virtual orbitals below the free electron limit and is determined on the molecular isodensity contour of 0.004 atomic units. Good (R2 = 0.83) to excellent (R2 = 0.98) correlations are found between descriptor values and experimental reactivity data for six series of electron deficient arenes. These include homo- and heteroarenes, rings of five to six atoms, and a variety of fluorine, bromine, and hydride leaving groups. The solvent, temperature, and nucleophile are in addition varied across the series. The surface E(r) [ES(r)] is shown to provide reactivity predictions better than those of transition-state calculations for a concerted SNAr reaction with a bromine nucleofug, gives correlations substantially stronger than those of LUMO energies, and is overall more reliable than the molecular electrostatic potential. With the use of ES(r), one can identify the various electrophilic sites within a molecule and correctly predict isomeric distributions. Since the calculations of ES(r) are computationally inexpensive, the descriptor offers fast but accurate reactivity predictions for the important nucleophilic aromatic substitution class of reactions. Applications in, e.g., drug discovery, synthesis, and toxicology studies are envisaged.

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