Does Koopmans’ Paradigm for 1‑Electron Oxidation Always Hold? Breakdown of IP/Eox Relationship for p‑Hydroquinone Ethers and the Role of Methoxy Group Rotation

Koopmans’ paradigm states that electron loss occurs from HOMO, thus forming the basis for the observed linear relationships between HOMO/IP, HOMO/Eox, and IP/Eox. In cases where a molecule undergoes dramatic structural reorganization upon 1-electron oxidation, the IP/Eox relationship does not hold, and the origin of which is not understood. For example, X-ray crystallography of the neutral and cation radicals of bicyclo[2.2.1]­heptane-annulated p-hydroquinone ethers (THE and MHE) showed that they undergo electron-transfer-induced conformational reorganization and show breakdown of the IP/Eox relationship. DFT calculations revealed that Koopmans’ paradigm still holds true because the electron-transfer-induced subtle conformational reorganization, responsible for the breakdown of IP/Eox relationship, is also responsible for the reordering of HOMO and HOMO-1. Perceived failure of Koopmans’ paradigm in cases of THE and MHE assumes that both vertical and adiabatic electron detachments involve the same HOMO; however, this study demonstrates that the vertical ionization and adiabatic oxidation occur from different molecular orbitals due to reordering of HOMO/HOMO-1. The underpinnings of this finding will spur widespread interest in designing next-generation molecules beyond HQEs, whose electronic structures can be modulated by electron-transfer-induced conformation reorganization.