Synthesis and spectroelectrochemistry of Ir(bpy)(phen)(phi)3+, a tris(heteroleptic) metallointercalator

C. Stinner, M. D. Wightman, S. O. Kelley, M. G. Hill*, J. K. Barton

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


A tris(heteroleptic) phenanthrenequinone diimine (phi) complex of Ir(III), Ir(bpy)(phen)(phi)3+, was synthesized through the stepwise introduction of three different bidentate ligands, and the Λ- and Δ-enantiomers were resolved and characterized by CD spectroscopy. Like other phi complexes, this tris(heteroleptic) iridium complex binds avidly to DNA by intercalation. Electrochemical studies show that Ir(bpy)(phen)(phi)3+ undergoes a reversible one-electron reduction at E0 = -0.025 V in 0.1 M TBAH/DMF (versus Ag/AgCl), and spectroelectrochemical studies indicate that this reduction is centered on the phi ligand. The EPR spectrum of electrochemically generated Ir(bpy)(phen)(phi)2+ is consistent with a phi-based radical. The electrochemistry of Ir(bpy)(phen)(phi)3+ was also probed at a DNA-modified electrode, where a DNA binding affinity of K = 1.1 × 106 M-1 was measured. In contrast to Ir(bpy)(phen)(phi)3+ free in solution, the complex bound to DNA undergoes a concerted two-electron reduction, to form a diradical species. On the basis of UV-visible and EPR spectroscopies, it is found that disproportionation of electrochemically generated Ir(bpy)(phen)(phi)2+ occurs upon DNA binding. These results underscore the rich redox chemistry associated with metallointercalators bound to DNA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5245-5250
Number of pages6
JournalInorganic chemistry
Issue number20
StatePublished - Sep 24 2001
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry


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