The Photodynamic Covalent Bond : Sensitized Alkoxyamines as a Tool to Shift Reaction Networks Out-of-Equilibrium Using Light Energy

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalNot applicablepeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7647-7657
Journal / PublicationJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number24
Online published12 Jun 2018
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jun 2018
Externally publishedYes


We implement sensitized alkoxyamines as "photodynamic covalent bonds"— bonds that, while being stable in the dark at ambient temperatures, upon photoexcitation efficiently dissociate and recombine to the bound state in a fast thermal reaction. This type of bond allows for the photochemically induced exchange of molecular building blocks and resulting constitutional variation within dynamic reaction networks. To this end, alkoxyamines are coupled to a xanthone unit as triplet sensitizer enabling their reversible photodissociation into two radical species. By studying the photochemical properties of three generations of sensitized alkoxyamines it became clear that the nature and efficiency of triplet energy transfer from the sensitizer to the alkoxyamine bond as well as the reversibility of photodissociation crucially depends on the structure of the nitroxide terminus. By employing the thus designed photodynamic covalent bonding motif, we demonstrate how to use light energy to shift a dynamic covalent reaction network away from its thermodynamic minimum into a photostationary state. The network could be repeatedly switched between its minimum and kinetically trapped out-of-equilibrium state by thermal scrambling and selective photoactivation of sensitized alkoxyamines, respectively.

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