Due to their importance in organic chemistry, the atomistic understanding of bimolecular nucleophilic substitution (SN2) reactions shows exponentially growing interest. In this publication, the effect of front-side complex (FSC) formation is uncovered via quasi-classical trajectory computations combined with a novel analysis method called trajectory orthogonal projection (TOP). For both F- + CH3Y [Y = Cl,I] reactions, the lifetime distributions of the F-⋯YCH3 front-side complex revealed weakly trapped nucleophiles (F-). However, only the F- + CH3I reaction features strongly trapped nucleophiles in the front-side region of the prereaction well. Interestingly, both back-side and front-side attack show propensity to long-lived FSC formation. Spatial distributions of the nucleophile demonstrate more prominent FSC formation in case of the F- + CH3I reaction compared to F- + CH3Cl. The presence of front-side intermediates and the broad spatial distribution in the back-side region may explain the indirect nature of the F- + CH3I reaction.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Materials Science(all)
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry