Ab Initio Study of the Sₙ1Ar and Sₙ2Ar Reactions of Benzenediazonium Ion with Water. On the Conception of "Unimolecular Dediazoniation" in Solvolysis Reactions


The nucleophilic substitution of N2 in benzenediazonium ion 1 by one H2O molecule to form protonated phenol 2 has been studied with ab initio (RHF, MP2, QCISD(T)//MP2) and hybrid density functional (B3LYP) methods. Three mechanisms were considered: (a) the unimolecular process SN1Ar with steps 1 → Ph+ + N2 and Ph+ + H2O → 2, (b) the bimolecular process SN2Ar with precoordination 1 + H2O → 1·H2O, SN reaction 1·H2O → [TS]2·N2 and dissociation of the postcoordination complex 2·N22 + N2, and (c) the direct bimolecular process SN2Ar that bypasses precoordination and involves just the SN reaction 1 + H2O → [TS]2 + N2. The SN2Ar reactions proceed by way of a Cs symmetric SN2Ar transition state structure that is rather loose, contains essentially a phenyl cation weakly bound to N2 and OH2, and is analogous to the transition state structures of front-side nucleophilic replacement at saturated centers. In solvolysis reactions, all of these processes follow first-order kinetics, and the electronic relaxation is essentially the same. It is argued that "unimolecular dediazoniations" have to proceed by way of SN2Ar transition state structures because strict SN1Ar reactions cannot be realized in solvolyses, despite the fact that the Gibbs free energy profile favors the strict SN1Ar process over the SN2Ar reaction by 6.7 kcal/mol. It is further argued that the direct SN2Ar process is the best model for the solvolysis reaction for dynamic reasons, and its Gibbs free energy of activation is 19.3 kcal/mol and remains higher than the SN1Ar value. Even though the SN1Ar and SN2Ar models provide activation enthalpies and SKIE values that closely match the experimental data, the analysis leads us to the unavoidable conclusion that this agreement is fortuitous. While the experiments do show that the solvent effect on the activation energy is about the same for all solvents, they do not show the absence of a solvent effect. The ab initio results presented here suggest that the solvent effect on the direct SN2Ar dediazoniation is approximately 12 kcal/mol, and computation of solvent effects with the isodensity polarized continuum model (IPCM) support this conclusion.



Keywords and Phrases

Activation Energy; Gibbs Free Energy; Nitrogen; Positive Ions; Probability Density Function; Relaxation Processes; Solvents; Water; Electronic Relaxation; Nucleophilic Substitution; Transition State Structure; Unimolecular Dediazoniations; Unimolecular Process; Aromatic Compounds; Benzene Derivative; Benzenediazonium; Cation; Phenol; Phenyl Group; Unclassified Drug; Ab Initio Calculation; Addition Reaction; Calculation; Chemical Analysis; Chemical Bond; Chemical Interaction; Chemical Model; Chemical Reaction; Chemical Reaction Kinetics; Chemical Structure; Dissociation; Dynamics; Elimination Reaction; Energy; Enthalpy; Proton Transport; Reaction Analysis; Solvent Effect; Solvolysis; Structure Analysis; Substitution Reaction; Technique; Cations; Diazonium Compounds; Hydrolysis; Models; Molecular; Solutions; Thermodynamics

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

0002-7863; 1520-5126

Document Type

Article - Journal

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© 2004 American Chemical Society (ACS), All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Sep 2004

PubMed ID