Intramolecular electron transfer in mixed-valence triarylamines
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Mixed-valence compounds are of interest as model systems for the study of electron transfer reactions. The intramolecular electron transfer processes and patterns of charge delocalization in such compounds depend on the interplay between the electronic (V) and the vibronic (L) coupling. One can obtain both parameters from a Hush analysis of the intervalence band that arises upon optical intramolecular electron transfer if the band is intense and well-separated from other bands. This is quite often the case for mixed-valence triarylamines. As such, both Hush analysis and simulation of the intervalence band are widely used to classify these compounds as charge localized (class-II) or delocalized (class-III). Yet one must estimate the diabatic electron transfer distance (R) to calculate V in the Hush formalism. For mixed-valence triarylamines, R is commonly taken as the N-N distance; we show this to be a poor approximation in many cases. The activation barrier to thermal intramolecular electron transfer in a class-II mixed-valence compound is also related to the parameters V and L. Thus, if one can capture the rate of thermal electron transfer at multiple temperatures, then two experimental methods exist by which to extract the microscopic parameters. One technique that is widely used for organic mixed-valence compounds is variable-temperature electron spin resonance (ESR) spectroscopy. But this method is only rarely used to determine thermal electron transfer rates in mixed-valence triarylamines, as the electron transfer in most of the class-II compounds with distinct intervalence bands is too fast to observe on the ESR timescale. We show, for the first time, that one can use ESR spectroscopy to measure thermal electron transfer rates in such compounds. Simulation of ESR spectra based on density functional theory calculation and comparison with optical data also uncover the nature (i.e., adiabatic or nonadiabatic) of the electron transfer process.