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J Org Chem. 2007 Aug 31;72(18):6970-81. Epub 2007 Aug 4.

Bonded exciplexes. A new concept in photochemical reactions.

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  • 1Department of Chemistry, University of Rochester, Rochester, New York 14627, USA.


Charge-transfer quenching of the singlet excited states of cyanoaromatic electron acceptors by pyridine is characterized by a driving force dependence that resembles those of conventional electron-transfer reactions, except that a plot of the log of the quenching rate constants versus the free energy of electron transfer is displaced toward the endothermic region by 0.5-0.8 eV. Specifically, the reactions with pyridine display rapid quenching when conventional electron transfer is highly endothermic. As an example, the rate constant for quenching of the excited dicyanoanthracene is 3.5 x 10(9) M(-1)s(-1), even though formation of a conventional radical ion pair, A*-D*+, is endothermic by approximately 0.6 eV. No long-lived radical ions or exciplex intermediates can be detected on the picosecond to microsecond time scale. Instead, the reactions are proposed to proceed via formation of a previously undescribed, short-lived charge-transfer intermediate we call a "bonded exciplex", A- -D+. The bonded exciplex can be formally thought of as resulting from bond formation between the unpaired electrons of the radical ions A*- and D*+. The covalent bonding interaction significantly lowers the energy of the charge-transfer state. As a result of this interaction, the energy decreases with decreasing separation distance, and near van der Waals contact, the A- -D+ bonded state mixes with the repulsive excited state of the acceptor, allowing efficient reaction to form A- -D+ even when formation of a radical ion pair A*-D*+ is thermodynamically forbidden. Evidence for the bonded exciplex intermediate comes from studies of steric and Coulombic effects on the quenching rate constants and from extensive DFT computations that clearly show a curve crossing between the ground state and the low-energy bonded exciplex state.

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