Modulation of electronics and thermal stabilities of photochromic phosphino-aminoazobenzene derivatives in weak-link approach coordination complexes

Jung Su Park, Alejo M. Lifschitz, Ryan M. Young, Jose Mendez-Arroyo, Michael R. Wasielewski, Charlotte L. Stern, Chad A. Mirkin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


A series of d8 transition-metal (Pt(II) and Pd(II)) coordination complexes incorporating phosphine-functionalized aminoazobenzene derivatives as hemilabile phosphino-amine (P,N) ligands were synthesized and studied as model weak-link approach (WLA) photoresponsive constructs. The optical and photochemical properties of these complexes were found to be highly influenced by various tunable parameters in WLA systems, which include type of metal, coordination mode, type of ancillary ligand, solvent, and outer-sphere counteranions. In dichloromethane, reversible chelation and partial displacement of the P,N coordinating moieties allow for toggling between aminoazobenzene- or pseudostilbene- and azobenzene-type derivatives. The reversible switching between electronic states of azobenzene can be controlled through either addition or extraction of chloride counterions and is readily visualized in the separation between π-π* and n-π* bands in the complexes' electronic spectra. In acetonitrile solution, the WLA variables inherent to semiopen complexes have a significant impact on the half-lives of the corresponding cis isomers, allowing one to tune their half-lives from 20 to 21000 s, while maintaining photoisomerization behaviors with visible light. Therefore, one can significantly increase the thermal stability of a cis-aminoazobenzene derivative to the extent that single crystals for X-ray diffraction analysis can be grown for the first time, uncovering an unprecedented edge-to-face arrangement of the phenyl rings in the cis isomer. Overall, the azobenzene-functionalized model complexes shed light on the design parameters relevant for photocontrolled WLA molecular switches, as well as offer new ways of tuning the properties of azobenzene-based, photoresponsive materials.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)16988-16996
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number45
StatePublished - Nov 13 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry


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