Re-Evaluating the Transition State for Reactions in Solution

Rafael Garcia-Meseguer, Barry K. Carpenter*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article (Academic Journal)peer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)
146 Downloads (Pure)


In this microreview we revisit the early work in the development of Transition State Theory, paying particular attention to the idea of a dividing surface between reactants and products. The correct location of this surface is defined by the requirement that trajectories not recross it. When that condition is satisfied, the true transition state for the reaction has been found. It is commonly assumed for solution-phase reactions that if the potential energy terms describing solvent-solute interactions are small, the true transition state will occur at a geometry close to that for the solute in vacuo. However, we emphasize that when motion of solvent molecules occurs on a time scale similar or longer than that for structural changes in the reacting solute the true transition state may be at an entirely different geometry, and that there is an important inertial component to this phenomenon, which cannot be described on any potential energy surface. We review theories, particularly Grote-Hynes theory, which have corrected the Transition State Theory rate constant for effects of this kind by computing a reduced transmission coefficient. However, we argue that searching for a true dividing surface with near unit transmission coefficient may sometimes be necessary, especially for the common situation in which the rate-determining formation of a reactive intermediate is followed by the branching of that intermediate to several products.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)254-266
Number of pages13
JournalEuropean Journal of Organic Chemistry
Issue number2
Early online date12 Nov 2018
Publication statusPublished - 23 Jan 2019


  • Computational chemistry
  • Condensed phase
  • Dynamic effects
  • Kinetics
  • Transition states


Dive into the research topics of 'Re-Evaluating the Transition State for Reactions in Solution'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this