Combining proton and silaborane-based superhalogen anions – an effective route to new superacids as verified via systematic DFT calculations†
Based on systematic DFT calculations, silaborane-based superhalogen anions, which obey the Wade–Mingos rule, are shown to be capable of giving rise to superacids via their combination with protons. Compared to previous carborane-based systems, the acidities of the composites here are stronger in both the gas phase and solution phase. Thus, the potential of candidates based on silaborane could be greater than those based on carborane in the search for ultra-strong acidic systems. Within a given group, a higher superhalogen anion vertical electron detachment energy (VDE) generally leads to stronger acidity. This consistency arises from the dominant role of the VDE, as established through the decomposition of the gas-phase acidity into different contributions. Thus, constructing superacids from superhalogens is a rational route whose future should be positive. Besides the VDE, other effects, i.e., the deformation energy (DE) and bond dissociation energy (BDE), could also be crucial, especially in terms of the differences between the acidities of composites belonging to different groups. A comparison between the results in the gas phase and solution phase indicates that complete calculations of both gas-phase ΔGacid and solution-phase pKa values are necessary to obtain an unbiased description of the acidity. The solvation free energies of the participants in the deprotonation process, especially the conjugate acid, are responsible for the discrepancies between gas phase and solution phase behavior.