Synthesis of Biomimetic Systems for Proton and Electron Transfer Reactions in the Ground and Excited State

University dissertation from Uppsala : Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis

Abstract: A detailed understanding of natural photosynthesis provides inspiration for the development of sustainable and renewable energy sources, i.e. a technology that is capable of converting solar energy directly into chemical fuels. This concept is called artificial photosynthesis. The work described in this thesis contains contributions to the development of artificial photosynthesis in two separate areas.The first one relates to light harvesting with a focus on the question of how electronic properties of photosensitizers can be tuned to allow for efficient photo-induced electron transfer processes. The study is based on a series of bis(tridentate)ruthenium(II) polypyridyl complexes, the geometric properties of which make them highly appealing for the construction of linear donor-photosensitizer-acceptor arrangements for efficient vectorial photo-induced electron transfer reactions. The chromophores possess remarkably long lived 3MLCT excited states and it is shown that their excited-state oxidation strength can be altered by variations of the ligand scaffold over a remarkably large range of 900 mV.The second area of relevance to natural and artificial photosynthesis that is discussed in this thesis relates to the coupled movement of protons and electrons. The delicate interplay between these two charged particles regulates thermodynamic and kinetic aspects in many key elementary steps of natural photosynthesis, and further studies are needed to fully understand this concept. The studies are based on redox active phenols with intramolecular hydrogen bonds to quinolines. The compounds thus bear a strong resemblance to the tyrosine/histidine couple in photosystem II, i.e. the water-plastoquinone oxidoreductase enzyme in photosynthesis. The design of the biomimetic models is such that the distance between the proton donor and acceptor is varied, enabling studies on the effect the proton transfer distance has on the rate of proton-coupled electron transfer reactions. The results of the studies have implications for the development of artificial photosynthesis, in particular in connection with redox leveling, charge accumulation, as well as electron and proton transfer.In addition to these two contributions, the excited-state dynamics of the intramolecular hydrogen-bonded phenols was investigated, thereby revealing design principles for technological applications based on excited-state intramolecular proton transfer and photoinduced tautomerization.