The Paradox of Hydrogen-Bonded Anion–Anion Aggregates in Oxoanions: A Fundamental Electrostatic Problem Explained in Terms of Electrophilic···Nucleophilic Interactions
A theoretical study of anionic complexes formed by two partly deprotonated oxoacids joined by hydrogen bonds has been carried out at the MP2 computational level. In spite of the ionic repulsion, local energy minima are found both in the gas phase and in aqueous solution. Electrostatic potential and electron density topologies, and the comparison with neutral complexes formed by oxoacids, reveal that the ionization has no significant effect on the properties of the hydrogen bonds. The stability of the complexes in the gas phase is explained by attractive forces localized in a volume situated in the hydrogen bond and defined as the electrostatic attraction region (EAR) and determined by the topological analyses of the electron density and the electrostatic potential, and by the electric field lines. In solution, the strong anionic repulsion is mostly screened by the effect of the surrounding polar solvent, which only leads to a weak destabilizing interaction in the hydrogen bond region and finally favors the overall stability of the complexes. The anion–anion complexes have been compared with the corresponding neutral ones (as salts or protonated forms), showing that EAR remains unchanged along the series.