A Topological Study of the Geometry of AF6E Molecules: Weak and Inactive Lone Pairs
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The geometries of AF6E molecules, which may have either an O(h) or a C(3v) geometry, have been studied by means of the electron localization function. Our results show that when the molecule has a C(3v) geometry, there is a valence-shell monosynaptic V(A) basin corresponding to the presence of a lone pair in the valence shell of the central atom A. The population of this basin is, however, extensively delocalized so that the electron density has a core-valence basin character, which is consistent with an earlier suggestion of a weakly active lone pair that gives a C(3v) distorted octahedral molecule rather than the valence-shell electron-pair repulsion predicted pentagonal-pyramid geometry. In contrast, the molecules with O(h) geometry do not have a monosynaptic valence-shell basin, but they have a larger core. These results provide confirmation of a previous suggestion that in AX6E (X = Cl, Br, I) molecules with the O(h) geometry the ligands X are sufficiently closely packed around the central atom A so as to leave no space in the valence shell for the lone pair E, which remains part of the core. Among the corresponding fluorides, only BrF6- has the O(h) geometry, while the others have the C(3v) geometry because there is sufficient space in the valence shell to accommodate the lone pair, the presence of which distorts the O(h) geometry to C(3v). The energies of the O(h) and C(3v) geometries have been shown to be very similar so the observed geometries are a consequence of a very fine balance between ligand-ligand repulsions and the energy gained by the expansion of the two nonbonding electrons into the valence shell.
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