The ability to design catalysis largely depends on our understanding of the electrostatic effect of the surrounding on the bonds participating in the reaction. Here, we used a simplistic model of point charges (PCs) to determine a set of rules guiding how to construct PC-bond arrangement that can strengthen or weaken different chemical bonds. Using valence bond theory to calculate the in situ bond energies, we show that the effect of the PC mainly depends on the bond's dipole moment irrespective of its type (being covalent or charge shift). That is, polar bonds are getting stronger or weaker depending on the sign and location of the PC, whereas non- or weakly polar bonds become stronger or weaker depending only on the location of the PC and to a smaller extent compared with polar bonds. We also show that for polar bonds, the maximal bond strengthening and weakening effect can be achieved when the PC is placed along the bond axis, as close as possible to the more and less polarizable atom/fragment, respectively. Finally, due to the stabilizing effects of polarizability, we show that, overall, it is easier to cause bond strengthening compared with bond weakening. Particularly, for polar bonds, bond strengthening is larger than bond weakening obtained by an oppositely signed PC. These rules should be useful in the future design of catalysis in, e.g., enzyme active sites.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research was supported by The Israel Science Foundation (Grant No. 1691/17).
© 2023 Author(s).