Abstract: A fundamental aim in the field of catalysis is the development of new modes of small molecule activation. One approach toward the catalytic activation of organic molecules that has received much attention recently is visible light photoredox catalysis. In a general sense, this approach relies on the ability of metal complexes and organic dyes to engage in single-electron-transfer (SET) processes with organic substrates upon photoexcitation with visible light.
Many of the most commonly employed visible light photocatalysts are polypyridyl complexes of ruthenium and iridium, and are typified by the complex tris(2,2′-bipyridine) ruthenium(II), or Ru(bpy)32+ (Figure 1). These complexes absorb light in the visible region of the electromagnetic spectrum to give stable, long-lived photoexcited states.1,2 The lifetime of the excited species is sufficiently long (1100 ns for Ru(bpy)32+) that it may engage in bimolecular electron-transfer reactions in competition with deactivation pathways.3 Although these species are poor single-electron oxidants and reductants in the ground state, excitation of an electron affords excited states that are very potent single-electron-transfer reagents. Importantly, the conversion of these bench stable, benign catalysts to redox-active species upon irradiation with simple household lightbulbs represents a remarkably chemoselective trigger to induce unique and valuable catalytic processes.
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Ruthenium polypyridyl complexes: versatile visible light photocatalysts.
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