“Anti-Electrostatic” Halogen Bonding

Halogen bonding (XB) is often described as being driven predominantly by electrostatics, and thus adducts between anionic XB donors (halogen-based Lewis acids) and anions seem counter­intuitive. Such “anti-electrostatic” XBs have been predicted theoretically, but there are currently no experimental examples based on organic XB donors. Herein, we report the synthesis of two negatively charged organoiodine derivatives, which were subsequently investigated towards their ability to form “anti-electrostatic” XBs with anions. Even though the electrostatic potential is universally negative across the surface of both compounds, DFT calculations indicate kinetic stabilization of their halide complexes in the gas phase and particularly in solution. Experimentally, self-association of the anionic XB donors was observed in solid-state structures, resulting in dimers, trimers and infinite chains. In addition, co-crystals with halides were obtained which featured XB adducts between two or even three anions. The bond-lengths of all observed interactions are 14-21% shorter than sum of the van-der-Waals radii.