The Advantages of Flexibility: The Role of Entropy in Crystal Structures Containing C-H···F Interactions

Cameron J.G. Wilson, Jan Plesniar, Heike Kuhn, Jeff Armstrong, Peter A. Wood, Simon Parsons*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Molecular crystal structures are often interpreted in terms of strong, structure directing, intermolecular interactions, especially those with distinct geometric signatures such as H-bonds or π-stacking interactions. Other interactions can be overlooked, perhaps because they are weak or lack a characteristic geometry. We show that although the cumulative effect of weak interactions is significant, their deformability also leads to occupation of low energy vibrational energy levels, which provides an additional stabilizing entropic contribution. The entropies of five fluorobenzene derivatives have been calculated by periodic DFT calculations to assess the entropic influence of C-H···F interactions in stabilizing their crystal structures. Calculations reproduce inelastic neutron scattering data and experimental entropies from heat capacity measurements. C-H···F contacts are shown to have force constants which are around half of those of more familiar interactions such as hydrogen bonds, halogen bonds, and C-H···π interactions. This feature, in combination with the relatively high mass of F, means that the lowest energy vibrations in crystalline fluorobenzenes are dominated by C-H···F contributions. C-H···F contacts occur much more frequently than would be expected from their enthalpic contributions alone, but at 150 K, the stabilizing contribution of entropy provides, at −10 to −15 kJ mol-1, a similar level of stabilization to the N-H···N hydrogen bond in ammonia and O-H···O hydrogen bond in water.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCrystal Growth and Design
Publication statusPublished - 19 Feb 2024


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