The kinetics of photoinduced electron and energy transfer in a family of tetrapyridophenazine-bridged heteroleptic homo- and heterodinuclear copper(i) bis(phenanthroline)/ruthenium(ii) polypyridyl complexes were studied using ultrafast optical and multi-edge X-ray transient absorption spectroscopies. This work combines the synthesis of heterodinuclear Cu(i)-Ru(ii) analogs of the homodinuclear Cu(i)-Cu(i) targets with spectroscopic analysis and electronic structure calculations to first disentangle the dynamics at individual metal sites by taking advantage of the element and site specificity of X-ray absorption and theoretical methods. The excited state dynamical models developed for the heterodinuclear complexes are then applied to model the more challenging homodinuclear complexes. These results suggest that both intermetallic charge and energy transfer can be observed in an asymmetric dinuclear copper complex in which the ground state redox potentials of the copper sites are offset by only 310 meV. We also demonstrate the ability of several of these complexes to effectively and unidirectionally shuttle energy between different metal centers, a property that could be of great use in the design of broadly absorbing and multifunctional multimetallic photocatalysts. This work provides an important step toward developing both a fundamental conceptual picture and a practical experimental handle with which synthetic chemists, spectroscopists, and theoreticians may collaborate to engineer cheap and efficient photocatalytic materials capable of performing coulombically demanding chemical transformations.
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