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The classical term ortho effect was quantitatively analyzed and decomposed into its real or supposed components, using the acidity of eleven 2-substituted benzoic acids as a sample. The substituent effects were evaluated by calculations at the B3LYP/6-311+G(d,p) level by means of isodesmic reactions, separately for the acid molecules and for their anions. An intramolecular hydrogen bond, affecting the acidity moderately, was found only in the case of 2-methoxy- and 2-dimethylaminobenzoic acids. For the other acids, the often-employed interpretation invoking a hydrogen bond is wrong: the pertinent form was not revealed by calculations or by infrared spectroscopy. Another widespread explanation relying on the steric inhibition of resonance of the COOH group is also not correct in most cases: only some acid molecules are nonplanar (with substituents tert-Bu, CH2Cl, CF3, NO2, Cl) and the steric inhibition exists also in the anions, thus partly cancelling this effect. The main part of the ortho effect consists of polar effects (inductive and resonance) transmitted through the ring and of purely steric effects. Their tentative separation was based on comparison with the 4-substituted isomers. Polar effects are most important for the acidity and are not very different in the ortho and para positions (rough estimate 0.8:1). Steric effects are strong but mostly of similar magnitude in the acid as in the anion; hence they are of restricted importance for the acidity. They may be better described as van der Waals interactions rather than as short-range field effects. The whole analysis leads to the conclusion that the acidity of ortho-substituted benzoic acids cannot be interpreted by a simple universal theory.

6 years ago

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Dear student,


The ortho effect if based on the premise that an ortho-substituted acid (take benzoic acid as an example) is more acidic than the meta or para-substituted form. This effect is not dependent on the nature of the substituent (e- donating or e- withdrawing). The reason for this is that the steric hinderance between the substituent and the neighboring carboxylate forces the carboxylate to bend out of the plane of the aromatic ring. This conformational shift alters the delocalization of the charge into the benzene ring, making it easier for the negative charge to be delocalized throughout the pi-system.


 











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6 years ago

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