Organic Chemistry

Barrier-Lowering Effects of Baird Antiaromaticity in Photoinduced Proton-Coupled Electron Transfer (PCET) Reactions

Lucas Karas University of Houston


Baird antiaromaticity plays a central role in the photochemistry of proton-coupled electron transfer (PCET) reactions. We recognize that many popular organic chromophores that catalyze photoinduced PCET reactions are Hückel aromatic in the ground state, but gain significant Baird antiaromatic character in the lowest ππ* state, having important barrier-lowering effects for electron transfer. Two examples, 1) the photolytic O–H bond dissociation of phenol and 2) solar water splitting in the pyridine-water complex, are discussed. Contrary to an assumed homolytic O–H bond dissociation, both reactions proceed through loss (and gain) of an electron in the π-system (i.e., antiaromaticity relief), followed by heterolytic cleavage of the polar O–H bond near barrierlessly. Nucleus-independent chemical shifts (NICS), ionization energies (IE), electron affinities (EA), and excited-state PCET energy profiles of selected [4n] and [4n+2] π-systems are presented.


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Supplementary material

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