Neutral Radical and Singlet Biradical Forms of Meso-Free, -Keto, and -Diketo Hexaphyrins(1.1.1.1.1.1): Effects on Aromaticity and Photophysical Properties

We have investigated the electronic structures and photophysical properties of 5,10,20,25-tetrakis(pentafluorophenyl)-substituted hexaphyrin(1.1.1.1.1.1) (1) and its meso-keto (2) and meso-diketo derivatives (3) using various spectroscopic measurements. In conjunction with theoretical calculations, these analyses revealed fundamental structure–property relationships within this series, including unusual ground-state electronic structures with neutral, monoradical, and singlet biradical character. The meso-free species 1 is a representative 26 π-electron aromatic compound and shows characteristic spectroscopic features, including a sharp Soret band, well-defined Q-like bands, and a moderately long excited state lifetime (τ = 138 ps). In contrast, the meso-keto derivative 2 displays features characteristic of a neutral monoradical species at the ground state, including the presence of lower energy absorption bands in the NIR spectral region and a relatively short excited-state lifetime (13.9 ps). The meso-diketo 3 exhibits features similar to those of 2, specifically NIR absorptions and a short excited-state lifetime (9.7 ps). Compound 3 is thus assigned as being a ground-state singlet biradicaloid. Two photon absorption (TPA) measurements revealed comparatively large σ(2) values of 600 GM for 2 and 1600 GM for 3 with excitation at λex =1600 nm as compared to that observed for 1(2): 360 GM). The enhanced nonlinear optical properties of 2 and 3 are rationalized in terms of the open-shell electronic configuration allowing a large, field-induced fluctuation in the electron density (i.e., a large polarization). This interpretation is supported by theoretical evaluations of the static second hyperpolarizabilities (γ) and γ density analyses. Furthermore, nucleus-independent chemical shift (NICS) and harmonic oscillator model of aromaticity (HOMA) values and anisotropy of the induced current density (AICD) plots revealed a clear distinction in terms of the aromatic character of 13. Importantly, the open-shell radicaloid 2 and singlet biradicaloid 3 can be formally regarded as 27 π-electron nonaromatic and 26 π-electron aromatic species, respectively, constrained within a dominant 28 π-electron conjugated network. On the basis of the combined experimental and theoretical evidence, it is concluded that the meso-carbonyl groups of 2 and 3 play an important role in perturbing the macrocyclic π-conjugation of the parent hexaphyrin structure 1. In particular, they lead to the imposition of intrinsic radical and biradical character on the molecule as a whole and thus easy-to-discern modifications of the overall electronic effects.