Tetrel, pnictogen and chalcogen bonds identified in the gas phase before they had names: a systematic look at non-covalent interactions
The terms tetrel bond, pnictogen bond and chalcogen bond were coined recently to describe non-covalent interactions involving group 14, 15 and 16 atoms, respectively, acting as the electrophilic site that seeks a nucleophilic region of another molecule, for example a non-bonding electron pair or π-electron pair of a Lewis base. Many complexes containing these non-covalent bonds were identified and characterised in isolation in the gas phase by rotational and vibrational spectroscopy long before they were given these names. In this article, the geometries so determined for selected examples of complexes of each type are rationalised in terms of the molecular electrostatic surface potentials of the component molecules. Examples of chalcogen-bonded complexes considered are based mainly on sulfur dioxide, with the region near the sulfur atom as the electrophilic site that interacts with n-electron and π-electron pairs for a range of simple Lewis base molecules. For tetrel bonds, the examples discussed involve the carbon atom of carbon dioxide as the electrophilic centre, while for pnictogen bonds the central nitrogen of the closely related molecule nitrous oxide is chosen. Geometrical similarities within each series allow simple definitions of each type of non-covalent bond that are conformal with that recently advanced for the halogen bond, a related non-covalent interaction.