Electron Density Functions in Organic Chemistry

  • Andrew StreitwieserJr.
  • David L. Grier
  • Boris A. B. Kohler
  • Erich R. Vorpagel
  • George W. Schriver


A few years ago we computed the electron density function for methyl lithium1 and called attention to the low value of the electron density, $\rho(\equiv \rho({\mathop{\rm r}\limits_\sim}_1)$, the one-electron density function2) at its minimum along the C-Li internuclear axis. This low value did not seem to be consistent with significant C-Li covalency and we accordingly wrote that the carbon-lithium bond is essentially wholly ionic. Fig. 1 presents a perspective plot of ρ for LiCH3 showing the low value of the shared electron density for C-Li compared to C-H. The electron density function has found frequent important use in understanding bonding and in testing our bonding concepts.2,3 The conclusion that organolithium compounds are best interpreted simply as contact ion pairs not much different from lithium fluoride came as a complete surprise to us. We had been trained (and we even taught in the past) that the properties of organolithium compounds required substantial carbon-lithium covalency; but the electron density patterns computed for a number of organolithium compounds forced us to change our views. Not everyone agrees with us and our conclusion is still controversial. For example, one reviewer wrote of our conclusions, “…is surely wrong. There must be an error in the program.”


Projection Function Electron Density Function Molecular Plane Lithium Fluoride Internuclear Axis 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andrew StreitwieserJr.
    • 1
  • David L. Grier
    • 1
  • Boris A. B. Kohler
    • 1
  • Erich R. Vorpagel
    • 1
  • George W. Schriver
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of ChemistryUniversity of CaliforniaBerkeleyUSA

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