Hydrogen bonds are never of an “anti-electrostatic” nature: a brief tour of a misleading nomenclature

Carlos Martín-Fernández, M. Merced Montero-Campillo, Ibon Alkorta

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A large amount of scientific works have contributed through the years to rigorously reflect the different forces leading to the formation of hydrogen bonds, the electrostatic and polarization ones being the most important among them. However, we have witnessed lately with the emergence of a new terminology, anti-electrostatic hydrogen bonds (AEHBs), that seems to contradict this reality. This nomenclature is used in the literature to describe hydrogen bonds between equally charged systems to justify the existence of these species, despite numerous proofs showing that AEHBs are, as any other hydrogen bond between neutral species, mostly due to electrostatic forces. In this Viewpoint, we summarize the state of the art regarding this issue, try to explain why this terminology is very misleading, and strongly recommend avoiding its use based on the hydrogen bond physical grounds.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4105-4110
Number of pages6
JournalThe Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters
Issue number15
Early online date18 Apr 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 18 Apr 2024


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