Proton-coupled Electron Transfer in a Ruthenium (II) Bipyrimidine Complex in its Ground and Excited Electronic States

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


Proton-coupled electron transfer (PCET) was studied for the ground and excited electronic states of a [Ru(terpy)(bpm)(OH2)(PF6)] complex, Ru-bpm. Cyclic voltammetry measurements show that the Ru(II)-aqua moiety undergoes PCET to form Ru(IV)-oxo moiety in the anodic region, while the bpm ligand undergoes PCET to form bpmH2 in the anodic region. The photophysical behavior of Ru-bpm was studied using steady-state and femtosecond transient UV-vis absorption spectroscopy, coupled with density functional theory (DFT) calculations. The lowest-lying excited state of Ru-bpm is described as a (Ru bpm) metal-to-ligand charge transfer (MLCT) state, while the metal-centered (MC) excited state was found computationally to be close in energy to the lowest-energy bright MLCT state (MC state was 0.16 eV above the MLCT state). The excited state kinetics of Ru-bpm were found via transient absorption spectroscopy to be short-lived and were fit well to a biexponential function with lifetimes 1=4 ps and 2=65 ps in aqueous solution. Kinetic isotope effect of 1.75 was observed for both decay components, indicating that the solvent plays an important role in the excited-state dynamics of Ru-bpm. Based on the pH-dependent studies and the results from prior studies of similar Ru-complexes, we hypothesize that the 3MLCT state forms an excited-state hydrogen-bond adduct with the solvent molecules and that this process occurs with the 4 ps lifetime. The formation of such hydrogen-bond complex is consistent with the electronic density accumulation at the peripheral N atoms of the bpm moiety in the 3MLCT state. The hydrogen-bonded state 3MLCT’ decays to the ground state with a 65 ps lifetime. Such short lifetime is likely associated with the efficient vibrational energy transfer from 3MLCT state to the solvent.


transient absorption spectroscopy
cyclic voltammetry
density functional theory
metal-to-ligand charge-transfer
short-lived excited state

Supplementary materials

Supplemental Information
Additional details regarding experimental and computational methods. Supplemental figures, data, and results referenced in the main text.


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