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Pure Appl. Chem., 2007, Vol. 79, No. 6, pp. 969-979

Aromaticity, π-electron delocalization, and ring currents

Patrick W. Fowler1, Mark Lillington1 and Leif P. Olson2

1 Department of Chemistry, University of Sheffield, Sheffield S3 7HF, UK
2 Department of Anesthesiology, School of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Rochester Medical Center, Room 4-6314D, 601 Elmwood Avenue, Box 604, Rochester, NY 14642, USA

Abstract: The magnetic criterion of aromaticity is based on the ability of a cyclic system to support a ring current. If the ring current has the diatropic sense, the system is aromatic; if the sense is paratropic, the system is antiaromatic. Attribution of aromaticity ab initio therefore reduces to the calculation and visualization of induced current density. This can be achieved at modest computational cost within the ipsocentric approach, where current density at any point in space is calculated with that point as origin of vector potential. This choice leads to accurate maps of current density and a uniquely simple interpretation in terms of nonredundant orbital contributions governed by translational and rotational selection rules. For example, four-electron diatropicity and two-electron paratropicity are predicted for delocalized forms of [4n+2]- and [4n]-annulenes, respectively. A new application to homoaromatic systems is described. Two model tris-homoaromatics, both neutral molecules, are shown to exhibit a through-space, highest occupied molecular orbital (HOMO)-dominated, four-electron ring current, in a direct analogy with the conventional "aromatic" benzene π-current.