The interactions of the benzyl radical (1), the anilinyl radical (2), and the phenoxyl radical (3) with water are investigated using density functional theory (DFT). In addition, we report dispersion-corrected DFT-D molecular dynamics simulations on these three systems and a matrix isolation study on 1–water. The radicals 1–3 form an interesting series with the number of lone pairs increasing from none to two. The anilinyl and benzyl radicals can act as Lewis base through their unpaired electrons, the lone pairs of the heteroatoms, or the doubly occupied π orbitals of the aromatic system. Matrix isolation experiments provide evidence for the formation of a π complex between 1 and water. By combining computational and experimental techniques we identify the possible interactions between the aromatic radicals 1–3 and water, predict the structure and vibrational spectra of the resulting complexes, and analyze the effects of substitution and temperature.
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