The Fluorine Gauche Effect Explained by Electrostatic Polarization Instead of Hyperconjugation: An Interacting Quantum Atoms (IQA) and Relative Energy Gradient (REG) Study

Joseph Thacker, Paul Popelier

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    Abstract

    We present an interacting quantum atoms (IQA) study of the gauche effect by comparing 1,2-difluoroethane, 1,2-dichloroethane, and three conformers of 1,2,3,4,5,6-hexafluorocyclohexane. In the 1,2-difluoroethane, the gauche effect is observed in that the gauche conformation is more stable than the anti, whereas in 1,2-dichloroethane the opposite is true. The analysis performed here is exhaustive and unbiased thanks to using the recently introduced relative energy gradient (REG) method [Thacker, J. C. R.; Popelier, P. L. A. Theor. Chem. Acc. 2017, 136, 86], as implemented in the in-house program ANANKE. We challenge the common explanation that hyperconjugation is responsible for the gauche stability in 1,2-difluoroethane and instead present electrostatics as the cause of gauche stability. Our explanation of the gauche effect is also is seen in other molecules displaying local gauche conformations, such as the recently synthesized “all-cis” hexafluorocyclohexane and its conformers where all the fluorine atoms are in the equatorial positions. Using our extension of the traditional IQA methodology that allows for the partitioning of electrostatic terms into polarization and charge transfer, we propose that the cause of gauche stability is 1,3 C···F electrostatic polarization interactions. In other words, if a number of fluorine atoms are aligned, then the stability due to polarization of nearby carbon atoms is increased.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry
    Early online date30 Jan 2018
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2018

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