### Abstract

We have calculated the vicinal indirect nuclear spin-spin coupling constants 3J1H1H3J1H1H in the series of molecules H3C–CH2XH3C–CH2X with X=H, F, Cl, Br, and I at the self-consistent field level and using the second order polarization propagator approximation (SOPPA). We have studied the effect of electron correlation and of the substituents (X=F, Cl, Br, and I) on all four contributions to the coupling constants. But in particular we have investigated the possibility of using locally dense basis sets, i.e., we have carried out calculations with basis sets, where the basis functions on the hydrogen atoms were optimized for the calculation of spin–spin coupling constants whereas on the other atoms smaller, contracted sets of basis functions were used. This changes the results for the couplings by ∼0.3 Hz or 3%. However, the change is almost entirely due to the orbital paramagnetic term and is independent of electron correlation, which enables one to estimate the SOPPA results in the full basis sets. Furthermore we find that the Fermi contact term is the dominant contribution to the vicinal coupling constants, because it is about an order of magnitude larger than the other contributions and because the two orbital angular moment terms almost cancel each other completely. Also the changes in the calculated couplings due to electron correlation are solely due to the Fermi contact term. However, the shifts in the coupling constants caused by the different substituents arise in equal amounts from the Fermi contact and the orbital diamagnetic term, whereas the changes in the orbital paramagnetic term are smaller and are in the opposite direction. In comparison with the experimental data we find very good agreement for C2H6C2H6 and C2H5F.C2H5F. However, the agreement becomes less good with increasing nuclear charge of the substituent X.