The substitution of a nucleofuge (a good leaving group) by a nucleophile at a carbon centre occurs with inversion of configuration at the carbon, the mechanism being known by the term SN2 (a story I have also told in this post). Such displacement at silicon famously proceeds by a quite different mechanism, which I here quantify with some calculations.
Earlier, I constructed a possible model of hydronium hydroxide, or H3O+.OH– One way of assessing the quality of the model is to calculate the free energy difference between it and two normal water molecules and compare the result to the measured difference. Here I apply a further test of the model using isotopes.
In the previous post I described how hydronium hydroxide or H3O+…HO–, an intermolecular tautomer of water, has recently been observed captured inside an organic cage and how the free-standing species in water can be captured computationally with the help of solvating water bridges. Here I explore azane oxide or H3N+-O–,‡ a tautomer of the better known hydroxylamine (H2N-OH).
- M. Stapf, W. Seichter, and M. Mazik, "Unique Hydrogen-Bonded Complex of Hydronium and Hydroxide Ions", Chemistry - A European Journal, vol. 21, pp. 6350-6354, 2015. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/chem.201406383
Ammonium hydroxide (NH4+…OH–) can be characterised quantum mechanically when stabilised by water bridges connecting the ion-pairs. It is a small step from there to hydronium hydroxide, or H3O+…OH–. The measured concentrations [H3O+] ≡ [OH–] give rise of course to the well-known pH 7 of pure water, and converting this ionization constant to a free energy indicates that the solvated ion-pair must be some ~19.1 kcal/mol higher in free energy than water itself.♣ So can a quantum calculation reproduce pH7 for water?