American Chemical Society
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Computation of pKa Values of Substituted Aniline Radical Cations in Dimethylsulfoxide Solution

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journal contribution
posted on 2020-04-02, 14:35 authored by Ao Yu, Yuanhai Liu, Zucheng Li, Jin-Pei Cheng
A newly developed computation strategy was used to calculate the absolute pKa values of 18 substituted aniline radical cations in dimethylsulfoxide (DMSO) solution with the error origin elucidated and deviation minimized. The B3LYP/6-311++G(2df,2p) method was applied and was found to be capable of reproducing the gas-phase proton-transfer free energies of substituted anilines with a precision of 0.83 kcal/mol. The IEF-PCM solvation model with gas-phase optimized structures was adopted in calculating the pKa values of the substituted neutral anilines in DMSO, regenerating the experimental results within a standard deviation of 0.4 pKa unit. When the IEF-PCM solvation model was applied to calculate the standard redox potentials of anilide anions, it showed that the computed values agreed well with experiment, but the redox potentials of substituted anilines were systematically overestimated by 0.304 eV. The cause of this deviation was found to be related to the inaccuracy of the calculated solvation free energies of aniline radical cations. By adjusting the size of the cavity in the IEF-PCM method, we derived a reliable procedure that can reproduce the experimental pKa values of aniline radical cations within 1.2 pKa units to those from experiment.