Absolute pKa determinations for substituted phenols

ACS Citation

Liptak, M. D.; Gross, K. C.; Seybold, P. G.; Feldgus, S.; Shields, G. C. Absolute pKa Determinations for Substituted Phenols. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2002, 124 (22), 6421-€“6427.


The CBS-QB3 method was used to calculate the gas-phase free energy difference between 20 phenols and their respective anions, and the CPCM continuum solvation method was applied to calculate the free energy differences of solvation for the phenols and their anions. The CPCM solvation calculations were performed on both gas-phase and solvent-phase optimized structures. Absolute pK(a) calculations with solvated phase optimized structures for the CPCM calculations yielded standard deviations and root-mean-square errors of less than 0.4 pK(a) unit. This study is the most accurate absolute determination of the pK(a) values of phenols, and is among the most accurate of any such calculations for any group of compounds. The ability to make accurate predictions of pK(a) values using a coherent, well-defined approach, without external approximations or fitting to experimental data, is of general importance to the chemical community. The solvated phase optimized structures of the anions are absolutely critical to obtain this level of accuracy, and yield a more realistic charge separation between the negatively charged oxygen and the ring system of the phenoxide anions.

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Journal of the American Chemical Society

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