Isolated Neutral [4]Helicene Radical Provides Insight into Consecutive Two-Photon Excitation Photocatalysis

10 January 2022, Version 1
This content is a preprint and has not undergone peer review at the time of posting.


Direct activation of strong bonds in readily available, benchtop substrates offer a straightforward simplification, albeit in most cases existing catalytic systems are limited to unlock such activation. In recent years, a surge of in-situ generated organic radicals that can act as potent photoinduced electron transfer (PET) agents have proved to be a powerful manifold for the activation of remarkably stable bonds. Herein we document the use of N,N′-di-n-propyl-1,13-dimethoxyquinacridine (nPr-DMQA•), an isolated and stable neutral helicene radical, as a highly photoreducing species. This isolable doublet state open shell radical offers a unique opportunity to shed light on the mechanism behind PET reactions of organic radicals. Experimental and spectroscopic studies revealed that this doublet radical has a long lifetime of 4.6 ± 0.2 ns, an estimated excited state oxidation potential of -3.31 V vs SCE, and can undergoes PET with organic substrates. The strongly photoreducing nature of the nPr-DMQA• was experimentally confirmed by the demonstration of photo activation of electron rich aryl bromides and chlorides. We further demonstrated that nPr-DMQA• can be photochemically generated from its cation analog (nPr-DMQA+) allowing catalytic functionalization of aryl halide via a consecutive photoexcitation mechanism (ConPET). Dehalogenation, photo-Arbuzov, photo-borylation and C-C bond formation reactions with aryl chlorides and bromides are reported herein, as well as the α-arylation of carbonyl using cyclic ketones. The latter transformation exhibits the facile synthesis of α-arylated cyclic ketones as critical feedstock chemical for diverse useful molecules, especially in the biomedical enterprises.


ConPET mechanism
Neutral Radical
Isolated [4]helicene radical
aryl halide activation
alpha arylation of ketones
Two photon excitation
Radical photocatalyst
Potent photoreducing agent

Supplementary materials

ESI for Isolated Neutral [4]Helicene Radical Provides Insight into Consecutive Two-Photon Excitation Photocatalysis
This document contains the information relevant to the synthesis of the photocatalysts, their characterizations, and the mechanistic studies. As well as the cyclic voltammetry, absorption and emission spectroscopy, the TA and lifetime measurements. The catalytic reaction condition optimizations, catalytic transformations, synthesis of the starting materials and characterization of the catalytic products formed and their spectra are also presented.


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