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An ab Initio and Density Functional Theory Study of the Structure and Bonding of Sulfur Ylides

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journal contribution
posted on 17.01.2008, 00:00 by Jean M. Standard, Beth A. Copack, Tami K. Johnson, David E. Przybyla, Shelley R. Graham, Rebecca J. Steidl
Sulfur ylides are useful synthetic intermediates that are formed from the interaction between singlet carbenes and sulfur-containing molecules. Partial double-bond character frequently has been proposed as a key contributor to the stability of sulfur ylides. Calculations at the B3LYP, MP2, and CCSD(T) levels of theory employing various basis sets have been performed on the sulfur ylides H2S−CH2 and (CH3)2S−CH2 in order to investigate the structure and bonding of these systems. The following general properties of sulfur ylides were observed from the computational studies:  C−S bond distances that are close in length to that of a typical C−S double bond, high charge transfer from the sulfide to the carbene, and large torsional rotation barriers. Analysis of the sulfur ylide charge distribution indicates that the unusually short C−S bond distance can be attributed in part to the electrostatic attraction between highly oppositely charged carbon and sulfur atoms. Furthermore, n → σ* stabilization arising from donation of electron density from the carbon lone pair orbital into S−H or S−C antibonding orbitals leads to larger than expected torsional barriers. Finally, natural resonance theory analysis indicates that the bond order of the sulfur ylides H2S−CH2 and (CH3)2S−CH2 is 1.4−1.5, intermediate between a single and double bond.