Switching between Hückel and Möbius aromaticity: a density functional theory and information-theoretic approach study†
Benziporphyrins are versatile macrocycles exhibiting aromaticity switching behaviors. The existence of both Hückel and Möbius (anti)aromaticity has been reported in these systems, whose validity is respectively governed by the [4n + 2] and [4n] π-electron rule on the macrocyclic pathway. Despite the experimental evidence on the floppiness of benziporphyrins, the switching mechanism between Hückel and Möbius structures is still not clear, as well as the factors influencing the stability of the different π-conjugation topologies. For these reasons, we performed a systematic study on A,D-di-p-benzihexaphyrins(126.96.36.199.1.1) with two redox states corresponding to  and  π-electron conjugation pathways. Whereas benzihexaphyrin obeys Möbius aromaticity, benzihexaphyrin follows Hückel aromaticity. The dynamic interconversion between Möbius and Hückel aromaticity is investigated through the rotation of a phenylene ring, which acts as the topology selector. Further analyses of the energy profiles using energy decomposition and information-theoretic approaches provide new insights into conformational stability, aromaticity and antiaromaticity for these species. Strong and opposite cross correlations between aromaticity indexes and information-theoretic quantities were found for the two macrocyclic systems with opposite global aromaticity and antiaromaticity behaviors. These results indicate that Hückel and Möbius aromaticity and antiaromaticity, though qualitatively different, are closely related and can be interchanged, and information-theoretic quantities provide a novel understanding about their relevance. Our present results should provide in-depth insights to appreciate the nature and origin about Möbius (anti)aromaticity and its close relationship with Hückel (anti)aromaticity.