A complete mechanistic picture for the photochemical release of bipyridine (bpy) from the archetypal complex [Ru(bpy)3]2+ is presented for the first time following the description of the ground and lowest triplet potential energy surfaces, as well as their key crossing points, involved in successive elementary steps along pathways toward cis- and trans-[Ru(bpy)2(NCMe)2]2+. This work accounts for two main pathways that are identified involving (a) two successive photochemical reactions for photodechelation, followed by the photorelease of a monodentate bpy ligand, and (b) a novel one-photon mechanism in which the initial photoexcitation is followed by dechelation, solvent coordination, and bpy release processes, all of which occur sequentially within the triplet excited-state manifold before the final relaxation to the singlet state and formation of the final photoproducts. For the reaction between photoexcited [Ru(bpy)3]2+ and acetonitrile, which is taken as a model reaction, pathways toward cis and trans photoproducts are uphill processes, in line with the comparative inertness of the complex in this solvent. Factors involving the nature of the departing ligand and retained “spectator” ligands are considered, and their role in the selection of mechanistic pathways involving overall two sequential photon absorptions versus one photon absorption for the formation of both cis or trans photoproducts is discussed in relation to notable examples from the literature. This study ultimately provides a generalized roadmap of accessible photoproductive pathways for light-induced reactivity mechanisms of photolabile [Ru(N^N)(N^N′)(N^N″)]2+-type complexes.
Soupart, A., Alary, F., Heully, J-L., Elliott, P., & Dixon, I. M. (2020). Theoretical Study of the Full Photosolvolysis Mechanism of [Ru(bpy)3]2+: Providing a General Mechanistic Roadmap for the Photochemistry of [Ru(N^N)3]2+-Type Complexes toward Both Cis and Trans Photoproducts. Inorganic Chemistry. https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.inorgchem.0c01843