“Separated” versus “Contact” Ion-Pair Structures in Solution from Their Crystalline States:  Dynamic Effects on Dinitrobenzenide as a Mixed-Valence Anion

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American Chemical Society

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Journal of the American Chemical Society

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Qualitative structural concepts about dynamic ion pairs, historically deduced in solution as labile solvent-separated and contact species, are now quantified by the low-temperature isolation of crystalline (reactive) salts suitable for direct X-ray analysis. Thus, dinitrobenzenide anion (DNB-) can be prepared in the two basic ion-paired forms by potassium-mirror reduction of p-dinitrobenzene in the presence of macrocyclic polyether ligands:  LC (cryptand) and LE (crown-ethers). The crystalline “separated” ion-pair salt isolated as K(LC)+//DNB- is crystallographically differentiated from the “contact” ion-pair salt isolated as K(LE)+DNB- by their distinctive interionic separations. Spectral analysis reveals pronounced near-IR absorptions arising from intervalence transitions that characterize dinitrobenzenide to be a prototypical mixed-valence anion. Most importantly, the unique patterns of vibronic (fine-structure) progressions that also distinguish the “separated” from the “contact” ion pair in the crystalline solid state are the same as those dissolved into THF solvent and ensure that the same X-ray structures persist in solution. Moreover, these distinctive NIR patterns are assigned with the aid of Marcus−Hush (two-state) theory to the “separated” ion pair in which the unpaired electron is equally delocalized between both NO2-centers in the symmetric ground state of dinitrobenzenide, and by contrast, the asymmetric electron distribution inherent to “contact” ion pairs favors only that single NO2-center intimately paired to the counterion. The labilities of these dynamic ion pairs in solution are thoroughly elucidated by temperature-dependent ESR spectral changes that provide intimate details of facile isomerizations, ionic separations, and counterion-mediated exchanges.


Journal of the American Chemical Society, Vol. 127, No. 6 (2005): 1797-1809. DOI.

Sergey V. Lindeman was affiliated with the University of Houston at the time of publication.