American Chemical Society
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Molecular Hydrogen Acts as a Hydrogen Bond Proton Acceptor: From Protonated Betaine Tagging to the Weakest Hydrogen Bond

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journal contribution
posted on 2024-05-09, 04:29 authored by Blagoj Achevski, Ljupcho Pejov
In an attempt to gain further insights into the intermolecular interactions implied by Rizzo’s group’s cautionary tale related to molecular tagging in infrared multiple photon dissociation (IRMPD) spectroscopy with molecular messengers [Masson, A. . J. Chem. Phys. 2015, 143, 104313], in the present study, we provide an in-depth analysis of the noncovalent interaction between the molecular hydrogen and protonated betaine molecule in the gas phase. We aim to shed some new light on the fundamental issues concerning the wide diapason of hydrogen-bonding-type intermolecular interactions, with a wide variety of proton acceptors. We demonstrate that in the course of tagging the protonated betaine with molecular hydrogen from the OH group side, it is the σ bond of molecular hydrogen that plays the role of hydrogen-bonding proton acceptor. The tagging thus induces a small yet significant red shift of the protonated betaine O–H stretching mode. We investigate the performance of a wide range of density functional theory (DFT) functionals for the calculation of anharmonic vibrational frequency shifts of the studied system, which are essential for the correct interpretation of the experimental IRMPD data. For an accurate prediction of the OH stretching frequency shifts, specifically designed functionals such as Handy’s group HCTH/407 should be applied. The empirical dispersion correction enhances the systematic overestimation of the anharmonic frequency shift, characteristic of the most widely used DFT functionals. Combining the full-wave function approach with the charge field perturbation and natural bond orbital (NBO) deletion analyses, we demonstrate that the frequency shift in the OH-tagged structure is governed by the σHH → σ*OH intermolecular charge transfer. This interaction stabilizes the OH-tagged dimer as well, in contrast to the dipole–quadrupole electrostatic interaction energy term. Topological analysis of the electron density reveals the presence of an intermolecular bond critical point with a positive value of the density Laplacian very close to the lower limit for hydrogen bonds. NCI analyses demonstrate that the OH···H2 interaction is weaker than the intramolecular CH···O one within the protonated betaine molecule, with the through of reduced density gradient appearing at less negative sign­(λ2)·ρ values. Analyzing the O–H stretching vibrational potential with the second-generation absolutely localized molecular orbitals energy decomposition analysis (ALMO-EDA 2) revealed that in the case of betaineH­(+) tagged from the OH group side, the permanent electrostatics (ΔEelec), polarization (ΔEpol), and charge-transfer (ΔEct) contributions to the total intermolecular interaction energy contribute favorably to the weak hydrogen bond formation and to the red shift of the fundamental O–H stretching frequency, the ΔEct contribution being the most significant in the last context. The Pauli repulsion term, on the other hand, favors an O–H stretching frequency blue shift as a consequence of the vibrational confinement effects.