Molecular Influences on the Quantification of Lewis Acidity with Phosphine Oxide Probes

06 January 2023, Version 1
This content is a preprint and has not undergone peer review at the time of posting.


Gutmann-Beckett-type measurements with phosphine oxide probes can be used to estimate effective Lewis acidity with 31P nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, but the influence of the molecular structure of a given probe on the quantification of Lewis acidity remains poorly documented in experimental work. Here, a quantitative comparison of triethyl (E), trioctyl (O), and triphenyl (P) phosphine oxides as molecular probes of Lewis acidity has been carried out via titration studies in MeCN with a test set of six mono- and di-valent metal triflate salts. In comparison to E, the bulkier O displays a similar range of chemical shift values and binding affinities for the various test metal ions. Spectral linewidths and speciation properties vary for individual cation-to-probe ratios, however, confirming probe-specific properties that can impact data quality. Importantly, P displays a consistently narrower dynamic range than both E and O, illustrating how electronic changes at phosphorus can influence NMR response. Comparative parametrizations of the effective Lewis acidities of a broader range of metal ions, including the trivalent rare earth ions Y3+, Lu3+, and Sc3+ as well as the uranyl ion (UO22+), can be understood in light of these results, informing on the fundamental chemical processes underlying the useful approach of single-point measurements for quantification of effective Lewis acidity. Together with a study of counter-anion effects reported here, these data clarify the diverse ensemble of factors that can influence the measurement of Lewis acid:base interactions.


NMR spectroscopy
metal salts
organic solvent

Supplementary materials

Supporting Information
Supporting Information Document

Supplementary weblinks


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