Recognition and applications of anion–anion dimers based on anti-electrostatic hydrogen bonds (AEHBs)
Based on Coulomb's Law alone, electrostatic repulsion between two anions is expected to prevent their dimerization. Contrary to that idea, this Tutorial Review will present evidence showing that anion–anion dimers of protic hydroxyanions can form readily, and describe conditions that facilitate their formation. From X-ray crystal structures, we learn that hydroxyanions dimerize and oligomerize by overcoming long-range electrostatic opposition. Common examples are hydroxyanions of phosphate, sulfate, and carbonate, often in partnership with charged and neutral receptors. Short-range hydrogen bonds between anionic donors and acceptors are defined as anti-electrostatic hydrogen bonds (AEHBs) with insight from theoretical studies. While anion dimers are difficult to identify unequivocally in solution, these solution dimers have recently been definitively identified. The development of the supramolecular chemistry of anion–anion dimers has led to applications in hierarchical assemblies, such as supramolecular polymers and hydrogen bonded organic frameworks.
- This article is part of the themed collection: 2020 Emerging Investigators