Competition between intramolecular hydrogen and pnictogen bonds in protonated systems

  • Goar Sánchez-Sanz
  • Cristina TrujilloEmail author
  • Ibon Alkorta
  • José Elguero
Regular Article


A theoretical study of the competition between hydrogen (HB) and pnictogen bonds (ZB) in three different families of compounds, (Z)-1,2-disubstituted ethenes (Eth), 1,2-disubstituted benzenes (Phe) and 1,8-disubstituted naphthalenes (Naph), with a charged group, ZH3 + and a neutral one, Z′H2 (Z, Z′ = N, P, As) as interacting moieties, has been carried out. In those structures with a NH3 + motif, intramolecular hydrogen bond structures are minima while pnictogen interactions are transition states. The opposite is true for PH3 + and AsH3 + moieties. An analysis of isodesmic energies (E iso), interaction energies (E b) and deformation energies (E def) shows that in Eth derivatives, the most stable compound corresponds to P+–N ZB while in the Phe and Naph ones, the N+–N HB interaction presents the largest negative isodesmic energy. Also, Eth and Phe derivatives show negative E iso values for all the compounds under study; however, in some cases of Naph derivatives positive isodesmic energies have been found. The Atoms in Molecules (AIM) analysis of the electron density, natural bond orbital (NBO) second-order orbital energies and electron density shift maps (EDS) have been used to better understand these intramolecular interactions.


Pnictogen bonds Non-covalent interactions MP2 Interaction energy Intramolecular interactions Hydrogen bonds 



We thank the Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación (Project No. CTQ2015-63997-C2-2-P) and the Comunidad Autónoma de Madrid (Project FOTOCARBON, ref S2013/MIT-2841) for continuous support. Thanks are given to the CTI (CSIC), Irish Centre for High-End Computing (ICHEC) and the Trinity Center for High-Performance Computing (TCHPC) for the provision of computational facilities. G.S.-S. wants to thank to Human Frontier Science Program (Project Reference: LT001022/2013-C) for the support.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (DOC 8763 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Goar Sánchez-Sanz
    • 1
  • Cristina Trujillo
    • 2
    Email author
  • Ibon Alkorta
    • 3
  • José Elguero
    • 3
  1. 1.School of ChemistryUniversity College DublinBelfield, Dublin 4Ireland
  2. 2.School of Chemistry, Trinity Biomedical Sciences InstituteTrinity College DublinDublin 2Ireland
  3. 3.Instituto de Química MédicaCSICMadridSpain

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