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Computational Study of the Donor–Acceptor Interactions Underlying the Variable Oxygen Probe

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journal contribution
posted on 16.02.2021, 13:07 by Samuel C. Brydon, Benjamin L. Harris, Jonathan M. White
The variable oxygen probe (VOP) is a crystallographic technique that has been used to explore the relative donor abilities of various filled orbitals ranging from vicinal lone pairs to polarized heteroatom–carbon bonds, remote π functionalities, and strained carbon–carbon (CC) bonds. In this study, the donor–acceptor interactions which underlie the VOP have been explored in the gas phase using density functional theory on the model systems 113 with natural bond orbital analysis of the various donor–acceptor interactions involving both neutral and charged σ* antibonding orbitals as the acceptor probes. Updated values for the VOP slopes of 113 were shown to relate qualitatively with the sum of all significant donor–acceptor interactions present in these derivatives. Application of the VOP to calculated structures of 113 with various −OR substituents revealed a similar relationship between the C–OR bond distance to pKa (ROH). However, the VOP slopes in the gas phase were significantly smaller in magnitude than those obtained from crystal structural data, likely due to the valence form (C+–OR) being disfavored in the former, highlighting the advantage of the VOP as an experimental technique to discriminate donor ability more effectively than calculated structures.