The first row anomaly and recoupled pair bonding in the halides of the late p-block elements

Thom H. Dunning, David E. Woon, Jeff Leiding, Lina Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The dramatic differences between the properties of molecules formed from the late p-block elements of the first row of the periodic table (N-F) and those of the corresponding elements in subsequent rows is well recognized as the first row anomaly. Certain properties of the atoms, such as the relative energies and spatial extents of the ns and np orbitals, can explain some of these differences, but not others.In this Account, we summarize the results of our recent computational studies of the halides of the late p-block elements. Our studies point to a single underlying cause for many of these differences: the ability of the late p-block elements in the second and subsequent rows of the periodic table to form recoupled pair bonds and recoupled pair bond dyads with very electronegative ligands. Recoupled pair bonds form when an electron in a singly occupied ligand orbital recouples the pair of electrons in a doubly occupied lone pair orbital on the central atom, leading to a central atom-ligand bond. Recoupled pair bond dyads occur when a second ligand forms a bond with the orbital left over from the initial recoupled pair bond.Recoupled pair bonds and recoupled pair bond dyads enable the late p-block elements to form remarkably stable hypervalent compounds such as PF5 and SF 6 and lead to unexpected excited states in smaller halides of the late p-block elements such as SF and SF2. Recoupled pair bonding also causes the Fn-1X-F bond energies to oscillate dramatically once the normal valences of the central atoms have been satisfied. In addition, recoupled pair bonding provides a lower-energy pathway for inversion in heavily fluorinated compounds (PF3 and PF2H, but not PH 2F and PH3) and leads to unusual intermediates and products in reactions involving halogens and late p-block element compounds, such as (CH3)2S + F2.Although this Account focuses on the halides of the second row, late p-block elements, recoupled pair bonds and recoupled pair bond dyads are important in the chemistry of p-block elements beyond the second row (As, Se, and Br) and for compounds of these elements with other very electronegative ligands, such as OH and O. Knowledge of recoupled pair bonding is thus critical to understanding the properties and reactivity of molecules containing the late p-block elements beyond the first row.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)359-368
Number of pages10
JournalAccounts of chemical research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 19 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'The first row anomaly and recoupled pair bonding in the halides of the late p-block elements'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this