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Cooperativity of Halogen, Chalcogen, and Pnictogen Bonds in Infinite Molecular Chains by Electronic Structure Theory

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journal contribution
posted on 01.05.2014, 00:00 by Janine George, Volker L. Deringer, Richard Dronskowski
Halogen bonds (XBs) are intriguing noncovalent interactions that are frequently being exploited for crystal engineering. Recently, similar bonding mechanisms have been proposed for adjacent main-group elements, and noncovalent “chalcogen bonds” and “pnictogen bonds” have been identified in crystal structures. A fundamental question, largely unresolved thus far, is how XBs and related contacts interact with each other in crystals; similar to hydrogen bonding, one might expect “cooperativity” (bonds amplifying each other), but evidence has been sparse. Here, we explore the crucial step from gas-phase oligomers to truly infinite chains by means of quantum chemical computations. A periodic density functional theory (DFT) framework allows us to address polymeric chains of molecules avoiding the dreaded “cluster effects” as well as the arbitrariness of defining a “large enough” cluster. We focus on three types of molecular chains that we cut from crystal structures; furthermore, we explore reasonable substitutional variants in silico. We find evidence of cooperativity in chains of halogen cyanides and also in similar chalcogen- and pnictogen-bonded systems; the bonds, in the most extreme cases, are amplified through cooperative effects by 79% (I···N), 90% (Te···N), and 103% (Sb···N). Two experimentally known organic crystals, albeit with similar atomic connectivity and XB characteristics, show signs of cooperativity in one case but not in another. Finally, no cooperativity is observed in alternating halogen/acetone and halogen/1,4-dioxane chains; in fact, these XBs weaken each other by up to 26% compared to the respective gas-phase dimers.

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