Theoretical Calculations of Acid Dissociation Constants: A Review Article
Acid dissociation constants, or pKa values, are essential for understanding many fundamental reactions in chemistry. These values reveal the deprotonation state of a molecule in a particular solvent. There is great interest in using theoretical methods to calculate the pKa values for many different types of molecules. These include molecules that have not been synthesized, those for which experimental pKa determinations are difficult, and for larger molecules where the local environment changes the usual pKa values, such as for certain amino acids that are part of a larger polypeptide chain. Chemical accuracy in pKa calculations is difficult to achieve, because an error of 1.36 kcal/mol in the change of free energy for deprotonation in solvent results in an error of 1 pKa unit. In this review the most valuable methods for determining accurate pKa values in aqueous solution are presented for educators interested in explaining or using these methods for their students.