Philicity, fugality, and equilibrium constants: when do rate-equilibrium relationships break down?

Pure Appl. Chem., 2017, 89, 729-744

Pure Appl. Chem.

Linear free energy relationships, in particular relationships between rate and equilibrium constants, are the basis for our rationalization of organic reactivity. Whereas relationships between the kinetic terms nucleophilicity and nucleofugality and the thermodynamic term basicity have been in the focus of interest for many decades, much less attention has been paid to the relationships between electrophilicity, electrofugality, and Lewis acidity. By using p- and m-substituted benzhydrylium ions (Aryl2CH+) as reference electrophiles, reference electrofuges, and reference Lewis acids of widely varying electron demand and constant steric surroundings of the reaction center, we have developed comprehensive reactivity scales which can be employed for classifying polar organic reactivity and for rationally designing synthetic transformations. It is a general rule that structural variations in electron-surplus species, which increase basicities, also increase nucleophilicities and decrease nucleofugalities, and that structural variations in electron-deficient species, which increase Lewis acidities also increase electrophilicities and decrease electrofugalities. Deviations from this behavior are analyzed, and it is shown that variations in intrinsic barriers are responsible for the counterintuitive observations that structural variation in one of the reactants alters the rates of forward and backward reactions in the same direction. A spectacular example of this phenomenon is found in vinyl cation chemistry: Vinyl cations are not only generated several orders of magnitude more slowly in SN1 reactions than benzhydrylium ions of the same Lewis acidity, but also react much more slowly with nucleophiles.

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