Two-Electron Transfer Pathways.
The frontiers of electron-transfer chemistry demand that we develop theoretical frameworks to describe the delivery of multiple electrons, atoms, and ions in molecular systems. When electrons move over long distances through high barriers, where the probability for thermal population of oxidized or reduced bridge-localized states is very small, the electrons will tunnel from the donor (D) to acceptor (A), facilitated by bridge-mediated superexchange interactions. If the stable donor and acceptor redox states on D and A differ by two electrons, it is possible that the electrons will propagate coherently from D to A. While structure-function relations for single-electron superexchange in molecules are well established, strategies to manipulate the coherent flow of multiple electrons are largely unknown. In contrast to one-electron superexchange, two-electron superexchange involves both one- and two-electron virtual intermediate states, the number of virtual intermediates increases very rapidly with system size, and multiple classes of pathways interfere with one another. In the study described here, we developed simple superexchange models for two-electron transfer. We explored how the bridge structure and energetics influence multielectron superexchange, and we compared two-electron superexchange interactions to single-electron superexchange. Multielectron superexchange introduces interference between singly and doubly oxidized (or reduced) bridge virtual states, so that even simple linear donor-bridge-acceptor systems have pathway topologies that resemble those seen for one-electron superexchange through bridges with multiple parallel pathways. The simple model systems studied here exhibit a richness that is amenable to experimental exploration by manipulating the multiple pathways, pathway crosstalk, and changes in the number of donor and acceptor species. The features that emerge from these studies may assist in developing new strategies to deliver multiple electrons in condensed-phase redox systems, including multiple-electron redox species, multimetallic/multielectron redox catalysts, and multiexciton excited states.
Lin, J; Balamurugan, D; Zhang, P; Skourtis, SS; Beratan, DN
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