Effect of the nucleophile’s nature on chloroacetanilide herbicides cleavage reaction mechanism. A dft study

Sebastián A. Cuesta, F. Javier Torres, Luis Rincón, José Luis Paz, Edgar A. Márquez, José R. Mora

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


In this study, the degradation mechanism of chloroacetanilide herbicides in the presence of four different nucleophiles, namely: Br, I, HS, and S2 O3−2, was theoretically evaluated using the dispersion-corrected hybrid functional wB97XD and the DGDZVP as a basis set. The comparison of computed activation energies with experimental data shows an excellent correlation (R2 = 0.98 for alachlor and 0.97 for propachlor). The results suggest that the best nucleophiles are those where a sulfur atom performs the nucleophilic attack, whereas the other species are less reactive. Furthermore, it was observed that the different R groups of chloroacetanilide herbicides have a negligible effect on the activation energy of the process. Further insights into the mechanism show that geometrical changes and electronic rearrangements contribute 60% and 40% of the activation energy, respectively. A deeper analysis of the reaction coordinate was conducted, employing the evolution chemical potential, hardness, and electrophilicity index, as well as the electronic flux. The charge analysis shows that the electron density of chlorine increases as the nucleophilic attack occurs. Finally, NBO analysis indicates that the nucleophilic substitution in chloroacetanilides is an asynchronous process with a late transition state for all models except for the case of the iodide attack, which occurs through an early transition state in the reaction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number6876
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number13
StatePublished - Jul 1 2021
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry


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