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Secondary Electrostatic Interaction Model Revised: Prediction Comes Mainly from Measuring Charge Accumulation in Hydrogen-Bonded Monomers

van der Lubbe, Stephanie C. C., Zaccaria, Francesco, Sun, Xiaobo, Fonseca Guerra, Célia
Journal of the American Chemical Society 2019 v.141 no.12 pp. 4878-4885
electrostatic interactions, hydrogen bonding, models, organic chemistry, prediction
The secondary electrostatic interaction (SEI) model is often used to predict and explain relative hydrogen bond strengths of self-assembled systems. The SEI model oversimplifies the hydrogen-bonding mechanisms by viewing them as interacting point charges, but nevertheless experimental binding strengths are often in line with the model’s predictions. To understand how this rudimentary model can be predictive, we computationally studied two tautomeric quadruple hydrogen-bonded systems, DDAA-AADD and DADA-ADAD. Our results reveal that when the proton donors D (which are electron-donating) and the proton acceptors A (which are electron-withdrawing) are grouped together as in DDAA, there is a larger accumulation of charge around the frontier atoms than when the proton donor and acceptor groups are alternating as in DADA. This accumulation of charge makes the proton donors more positive and the proton acceptors more negative, which enhances both the electrostatic and covalent interactions in the DDAA dimer. The SEI model is thus predictive because it provides a measure for the charge accumulation in hydrogen-bonded monomers. Our findings can be understood from simple physical organic chemistry principles and provide supramolecular chemists with meaningful understanding for tuning hydrogen bond strengths and thus for controlling the properties of self-assembled systems.