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Electrostatics, Charge Transfer, and the Nature of the Halide-Water Hydrogen Bond

submitted on 21.12.2020, 01:56 and posted on 22.12.2020, 08:50 by John Herbert, Kevin Carter-Fenk
Binary halide–water complexes X(H2O) are examined by means of symmetry-adapted perturbation theory, using charge-constrained promolecular reference densities to extract a meaningful charge-transfer component from the induction energy. As is known, the X(H2O) potential energy surface (for X = F, Cl, Br, or I) is characterized by symmetric left and right hydrogen bonds separated by a C2v-symmetric saddle point, with a tunneling barrier height that is < 2 kcal/mol except in the case of F(H2O). Our analysis demonstrates that the charge-transfer energy is correspondingly small (< 2 kcal/mol except for X = F), considerably smaller than the electrostatic interaction energy. Nevertheless, charge transfer plays a crucial role determining the conformational preferences of X(H2O) and provides a driving force for the formation of quasi-linear X...H–O hydrogen bonds. Charge-transfer energies correlate well with measured O–H vibrational redshifts for both halide–water complexes as well as OH(H2O) and NO2(H2O), providing some indication of a general mechanism.


Department of Energy, Office of Basic Energy Sciences, Division of Chemical Sciences, Geosciences, and Biosciences (DE-SC0008550)


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The Ohio State University



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Declaration of Conflict of Interest

J.M.H. serves on the board of directors of Q-Chem, Inc.