Doubly zwitterionic, di-reduced, highly electron-rich, air-stable naphthalenediimides: redox-switchable islands of aromatic-antiaromatic states.


Supramolecular and Material Chemistry Lab , School of Physical Sciences , Jawaharlal Nehru University , New Delhi 110067 , India . Email: [Email]


The di-reduced state of the naphthalene moiety and its congeners have long captivated chemists as it is elusive to stabilize these intrinsically reactive electron-rich π-systems and for their emergent multifaceted properties. Herein we report the synthesis and isolation of two-electron (2e-) reduced, highly electron-rich naphthalenediimides (NDIs). A doubly zwitterionic structure is observed for the first time in a naphthalene moiety and validated by single crystal X-ray crystallography and spectroscopic methods. The synthesis avoids hazardous reducing agents and offers an easy, high-yielding route to bench-stable di-reduced NDIs. Notably, we realized high negative first oxidation potentials of up to -0.730 V vs. Fc/Fc+ in these systems, which establish these systems to be one of the strongest ambient stable electron donors. The study also provides the first insights into the NMR spectra of the di-reduced systems revealing a large decrease in diatropicity of the naphthalene ring compared to its 2e- oxidized form. The NICS, NICS-XY global ring current, gauge-including magnetically induced current (GIMIC) and AICD ring current density calculations revealed switching of the antiaromatic and aromatic states at the naphthalene and the imide rings, respectively, in the di-reduced system compared to the 2e- oxidized form. Notably, the substituents at the phosphonium groups significantly tune the antiaromatic-aromatic states and donor ability, and bestow an array of colors to the di-reduced systems by virtue of intramolecular through-space communication with the NDI scaffold. Computational studies showed intramolecular noncovalent interactions to provide additional stability to these unprecedented doubly zwitterionic systems.