Effect of meta electron-donating groups on the electronic structure of substituted phenyl nitrenium ions

Arthur H. Winter, Daniel E. Falvey, Christopher J. Cramer

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Density functional theory (UB3LYP/6-31G(d,p)) was used to determine substituent effects on the singlet-triplet-state energy gap for 21 meta-substituted phenylnitrenium ions. It was found that strongly electron-donating substituents stabilize the triplet state relative to the singlet state. With sufficiently strong meta electron donors (e.g., m,m′-diaminophenylnitrenium ion) the triplet is predicted to be the ground state. Analysis of equilibrium geometries, Kohn-Sham orbital distributions, and Mulliken spin densities for the triplet states of this series of nitrenium ions leads to the conclusion that there are two spatially distinct types of low-energy triplet states. Simple arylnitrenium ions such as phenylnitrenium ions as well as those having electron-withdrawing or weakly donating meta substituents have lowest-energy triplet states that are n,π* in nature. That is, one singly occupied molecular orbital is orthogonal to the plane of the phenyl ring and one is coplanar. These n,π* triplets are generally characterized by large ArNH bond angles (ca. 130-132°) and an NH bond that is perpendicular to the plane of the phenyl ring. In contrast, meta donor arylnitrenium ions have a lowest-energy triplet state best described as π,π*. That is, both singly occupied molecular orbitals are orthogonal to the aromatic ring. Such π,π* states are characterized by NH bonds that are coplanar with the phenyl ring and have ArNH bond angles that are more acute (ca. 110-111°). These triplet nitrenium ions have electronic structures analogous to those of meta-benzoquinodimethane derivatives.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9661-9668
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number31
StatePublished - Aug 11 2004

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