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Benzylic Cations with Triplet Ground States: Computational Studies of Aryl Carbenium Ions, Silylenium Ions, Nitrenium Ions, and Oxenium Ions Substituted with meta π Donors

Winter, A. J.; Falvey, D. E.; Cramer, C. J.; Gherman, B. F.
J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2007, 129, 10113.

Density functional theory (B3LYP/6-31G(d,p)) was used to predict the effect of meta substitution on aryl cationic (Ar-X+) species, including aryloxenium ions, arylsilylenium ions, arylnitrenium ions, and arylcarbenium ions. Multireference second-order perturbation theory (CASPT2) calculations were used to benchmark the quantitative accuracy of the DFT calculations for representative systems. Substituting the meta positions on these species with π donors stabilizes a π,π* diradical state analogous to the well-known meta-xylylene diradical. Notably, the 3,5-bis(N,N-dimethylamino)benzyl cation is predicted to have a triplet ground state by 1.9 kcal/mol by DFT and to have essentially degenerate singlet-triplet states at the CASPT2(10,9) level of theory. Adding electron-withdrawing CF3 groups to the exocyclic carbon of this meta-disubstituted benzyl cation further increases the predicted singlet-triplet gap in favor of the triplet. Other aryl cationic species substituted with strong π electron-donating groups in the meta positions are predicted to have low-energy or ground-state triplet states. Systems analogous to the naphthaquinodimethane diradicals are also reported.

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