Chemical Reactivity Descriptors for Ambiphilic Reagents: Dual Descriptor, Local Hypersoftness, and Electrostatic Potential Academic Article uri icon

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  • The second-order response of the electron density with respect to changes in electron number, known as the dual descriptor, has been established as a key reactivity indicator for reactions like pericyclic reactions, where reagents accept and donate electrons concurrently. Here we establish that the dual descriptor is also the key reactivity indicator for ambiphilic reagents: reagents that can act either as electrophiles or as nucleophiles, depending on the reaction partner. Specifically, we study dual atoms (which are proposed to act, simultaneously, as an electron acceptor and an electron donor), dual molecules (which react with both electrophiles and nucleophiles, generally at different sites), and dual ion-molecule complexes (which react with both cations and anions). On the basis of our analysis, the dual atom (an Al(I) that has been purported to be dual in the literature) is actually pseudodual in the sense that it does not truly accept electrons from a nucleophiles; rather, it serves as a conduit through which an electrophile can donate electrons to the attached aromatic ring. For understanding dual ion-molecule complexes, it helps to understand that the dual descriptor makes a key contribution to the long-range portion of the quadratic hyperpolarization. In all cases, a complete description of the reactivity of the ambiphilic reagent requires considering both an orbital-based descriptor of electron transfer (the dual descriptor or the local hypersoftness) and the electrostatic potential. The local hypersoftness strongly resembles the dual descriptor.


  • Cárdenas, Carlos
  • Rabi, Nataly
  • Ayers, Paul
  • Morell, Christophe
  • Jaramillo, Paula
  • Fuentealba, Patricio

publication date

  • July 30, 2009