Reply to the ‘Comment on “Topography of the Free Energy Landscape on the Claisen–Schmidt Condensation: Solvent and Temperature Effect in the Rate-Controlling Step”’ by N. D. Coutinho, H. G. Machado, V. H. Carvalho-Silva and W. A. da Silva, Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys., 2021, 23, 6738†
In the Comment on our paper on the description of the Gibbs Free energy profile of Claisen–Schmidt condensation, it is claimed that our calculations are flawed due to inconsistencies with experimental isotope effects in aqueous acetonitrile. In this Reply, we presented rigorous arguments, ambiguities in the Comment and new calculations confirming the consistency of our results: (i) small differences in the relative energetic barriers in both experimental and theoretical curves make the assignment of the rate-limiting step debatable, making the concept of RCS questionable; (ii) it is shown how the misinterpretation of the elementary steps and of the overall processes rate constants led the Comment to incorrect conclusions about the behavior of the inverse isotopic effect; (iii) neglect in the Comment of the inverse kinetic isotope effect in step R2 due to the hybridization conversion, and of the inverse equilibrium isotopic effect for step R1 to describe an overall iKIE > 1, (iv) an erroneous suggestion in the Comment that the disagreement between experimental kinetic parameters is due to the fact that acetonitrile is not used in previous experimental works, when contradictorily the literature recommends it as being indispensable to allow kinetic accuracy; and (v) new calculations improved by explicit-implicit hybrid treatment again ensure that step R4, and not step R5, can assume the role of RCS in protic solvents. Recognizing that questioning is an excellent path for promoting understanding, we hope that the answers provided here will help to clarify and expand the pertinent topics under discussion.