Estimating π binding energy of N-Heterocyclic carbenes: The role of polarization

Abstract : In this work, the tuneability of the π acceptor or donor properties of a set of N-heterocyclic carbenes (NHCs) with a wide spectrum of electronic characteristics is established by means of density functional theory and energy decomposition analysis (EDA) tools. Even though the main orbital interaction contribution to the NHC coordination is the σ donation, a significant contribution of the π interactions to the bond is observed. By means of carefully selected coordination sites, different contributions to the π interactions could be identified and isolated. It includes not only the well known back donation and donation interactions, but also the intrafragment polarization, which has not been considered in previous studies. This can be obtained through the use of the extended transition state method for EDA combined with the natural orbitals for chemical valence and the constrained space orbital variation analysis. The contributions vary with the position of the heteroatoms and the presence of exocyclic substituents; the donation/backdonation π interactions between NHC and the coordination site can range between 2 and 61% of the total π orbital interactions, while the rest is owed to intrafragment polarization. Our results do not only contribute to the understanding of the electronic structure of NHC-based complexes, giving ways to improve their catalytic properties, but also provide comprehension on the modelization methods used to study their donor–acceptor interactions.
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Elixabete Rezabal, Gilles Frison. Estimating π binding energy of N-Heterocyclic carbenes: The role of polarization. Journal of Computational Chemistry, Wiley, 2015, 36, pp.564-572. ⟨10.1002/jcc.23852⟩. ⟨hal-01120413⟩

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