Photochemistry and Electron Transfer Kinetics in a Photocatalyst Model Assessed by Marcus Theory and Quantum Dynamics

The present computational study aims at unraveling the competitive photoinduced electron transfer (ET) kinetics in a supramolecular photocatalyst model. Detailed understanding of the fundamental processes is essential for the design of novel photocatalysts in the scope of solar energy conversion that allows unidirectional ET from a light-harvesting photosensitizer to the catalytically active site. Thus, the photophysics and the photochemistry of the bimetallic complex RuCo, [(bpy)2RuII(tpphz)­CoIII(bpy)2]5+, where excitation of the ruthenium­(II) moiety leads to an ET to the cobalt­(III), were investigated by quantum chemical and quantum dynamical methods. Time-dependent density functional theory (TDDFT) allowed us to determine the bright singlet excitations as well as to identify the triplet states involved in the photoexcited relaxation cascades associated with charge-separation (CS) and charge-recombination (CR) processes. Diabatic potential energy surfaces were constructed for selected pairs of donor–acceptor states leading to CS and CR along linear interpolated Cartesian coordinates to study the intramolecular ET via Marcus theory, a semiempirical expression neglecting an explicit description of the potential couplings and quantum dynamics (QD). Both Marcus theory and QD predict very similar rate constants of 1.55 × 1012 – 2.24 × 1013 s–1 and 1.21 × 1013–7.59 × 1013 s–1 for CS processes, respectively. ET rates obtained by the semiempirical expression are underestimated by several orders of magnitude; thus, an explicit consideration of electronic coupling is essential to describe intramolecular ET processes in RuCo.