The prevailing views of substituent effects in the sandwich configuration of the benzene dimer are flawed. For example, in the polar/pi model of Cozzi and co-workers (J. Am. Chem. Soc. 1992, 114, 5729), electron-withdrawing substituents enhance binding in the benzene dimer by withdrawing electron density from the pi-cloud of the substituted ring, reducing the repulsive electrostatic interaction with the nonsubstituted benzene. Conversely, electron-donating substituents donate excess electrons into the pi-system and diminish the pi-stacking interaction. We present computed interaction energies for the sandwich configuration of the benzene dimer and 24 substituted dimers, as well as sandwich complexes of substituted benzenes with perfluorobenzene. While the computed interaction energies correlate well with sigmam values for the substituents, interaction energies for related model systems demonstrate that this trend is independent of the substituted ring. Instead, the observed trends are consistent with direct electrostatic and dispersive interactions of the substituents with the unsubstituted ring.
S. Wheeler, K. Houk
Journal of the American Chemical Society