Hydrogen-Bond Strengthening upon Photoinduced Electron Transfer in Ruthenium–Anthraquinone Dyads Interacting with Hexafluoroisopropanol or Water

Quinones play a key role as primary electron acceptors in natural photosynthesis, and their reduction is known to be facilitated by hydrogen-bond donors or protonation. In this study, the influence of hydrogen-bond donating solvents on the thermodynamics and kinetics of intramolecular electron transfer between Ru­(bpy)32+ (bpy = 2,2′-bipyridine) and 9,10-anthraquinone redox partners linked together via one up to three p-xylene units was investigated. Addition of relatively small amounts of hexafluoroisopropanol to dichloromethane solutions of these rigid rodlike donor–bridge–acceptor molecules is found to accelerate intramolecular Ru­(bpy)32+-to-anthraquinone electron transfer substantially because anthraquinone reduction occurs more easily in the presence of the strong hydrogen-bond donor. Similarly, the rates for intramolecular electron transfer are significantly higher in acetonitrile/water mixtures than in dry acetonitrile. In dichloromethane, an increase in the association constant between hexafluoroisopropanol and anthraquinone by more than 1 order of magnitude following quinone reduction points to a significant strengthening of the hydrogen bonds between the hydroxyl group of hexafluoroisopropanol and the anthraquinone carbonyl functions. The photoinduced intramolecular long-range electron transfer process thus appears to be followed by proton motion; hence the overall photoinduced reaction may be considered a variant of stepwise proton-coupled electron transfer (PCET) in which substantial proton density (rather than a full proton) is transferred after the electron transfer has occurred.