Photoreduction of perylenediimide (PDI) derivatives has been widely studied for use in photocatalysis, hydrogen evolution, photo-responsive gels, and organic semiconductors. Upon light irradiation, the radical anion (PDI•–) can readily be obtained, whereas further reduction to the dianion (PDI2–) is rare. Here we show that full 2-electron photoreduction can be achieved using UVC light: 1) in anaerobic conditions by ‘direct photoreduction’ of PDI aggregates, or 2) by ‘indirect photoreduction’ in aerobic conditions due to acetone ketyl radicals. The latter strategy is also efficient for other dyes, such as naphthalenediimide (NDI) and methylviologen (MV2+). Efficient photoreduction on the minute time-scale using simple LED light in aerobic conditions is attractive for use in dissipative light-driven systems and materials.
corrected 2 typos in the main text, and added the missing supporting videos (Video S1 and Video S2). This version has been submitted for peer-review.