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How Radical Are "Radical" Photocatalysts? A Closed-Shell Meisenheimer Complex Is Identified as a Super-Reducing PhotoreagentSuper-reducing excited states have the potential to activate strong bonds, leading to unprecedented photoreactivity. Excited states of radical anions, accessed via reduction of a precatalyst followed by light absorption, have been proposed to drive photoredox transformations under super-reducing conditions. Here, we investigate the radical anion of naphthalene monoimide as a photoreductant and find that the radical doublet excited state has a lifetime of 24 ps, which is too short to facilitate photoredox activity. To account for the apparent photoreactivity of the radical anion, we identify an emissive two-electron reduced Meisenheimer complex of naphthalene monoimide, [NMI(H)](-). The singlet excited state of [NMI(H)](-) is a potent reductant (-3.08 V vs Fc/Fc(+)), is long-lived (20 ns), and its emission can be dynamically quenched by chloroarenes to drive a radical photochemistry, establishing that it is this emissive excited state that is competent for reported C-C and C-P coupling reactivity. These results provide a mechanistic basis for photoreactivity at highly reducing potentials via singlet excited state manifolds and lays out a clear path for the development of exceptionally reducing photoreagents derived from electron-rich closed-shell anions.
The properties of organic molecules can be influenced by magnetic fields, and these magnetic field effects are diverse. They range from inducing nuclear Zeeman splitting for structural determination in NMR spectroscopy to polaron Zeeman splitting organic spintronics and organic magnetoresistance. A pervasive magnetic field effect on an aromatic molecule is the aromatic ring current, which can be thought of as an induction of a circular current of π-electrons upon the application of a magnetic field perpendicular to the π-system of the molecule. While in NMR spectroscopy the effects of ring currents on the chemical shifts of nearby protons are relatively well understood, and even predictable, the consequences of these modified electronic states on the spectroscopy of molecules has remained unknown. In this work, we find that photophysical properties of model phthalocyanine compounds and their aggregates display clear magnetic field dependences up to 25 T, with the aggregates showing more drastic magnetic field sensitivities depending on the intermolecular interactions with the amplification of ring currents in stacked aggregates. These observations are consistent with ring currents measured in NMR spectroscopy and simulated in time-dependent density functional theory calculations of magnetic field-dependent phthalocyanine monomer and dimer absorption spectra. We propose that ring currentsmore »