Thermodynamic Justification for the Parabolic Model for Reactivity Indicators with Respect to Electron Number and a Rigorous Definition for the Electrophilicity: The Essential Role Played by the Electronic Entropy
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abstract

The temperature-dependence of the Helmholtz free energy with respect to the number of electrons is analyzed within the framework of the Grand Canonical Ensemble. At the zero-temperature limit, the Helmholtz free energy behaves as a Heaviside function of the number of electrons; however, as the temperature increases, the profile smoothens and exhibits a minimum value at noninteger positive values of the fractional electronic charge. We show that the exact average electronic energy as a function of the number of electrons does not display this feature at any temperature, since this behavior is solely due to the electronic entropy. Our mathematical analysis thus indicates that the widely used parabolic interpolation model should not be viewed as an approximation for the average electronic energy, but for the dependence of the Helmholtz free energy upon the number of electrons, and this analysis is corroborated by numerical results. Finally, an electrophilicity index is defined for the Helmholtz free energy showing that, for a given chemical species, there exists a temperature value for which this quantity is equivalent to the electrophilicity index defined within the parabolic interpolation of the electronic energy as a function of the number of electrons. Our formulation suggests that the convexity property of the energy versus the number of electrons together with the entropic contribution does not allow for an analogous nucleophilicity index to be defined.