Review

Electronic structure in the transition metal block and its implications for light harvesting

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Science  01 Feb 2019:
Vol. 363, Issue 6426, pp. 484-488
DOI: 10.1126/science.aav9104

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Abstract

Transition metal–based chromophores play a central role in a variety of light-enabled chemical processes ranging from artificial solar energy conversion to photoredox catalysis. The most commonly used compounds include elements from the second and third transition series (e.g., ruthenium and iridium), but their Earth-abundant first-row analogs fail to engage in photoinduced electron transfer chemistry despite having virtually identical absorptive properties. This disparate behavior stems from fundamental differences in the nature of 3d versus 4d and 5d orbitals, resulting in an inversion in the compounds’ excited-state electronic structure and undermining the ability of compounds with first-row elements to engage in photoinduced electron transfer. This Review will survey the key experimental observations establishing this difference in behavior, discuss the underlying reasons for this phenomenon, and briefly summarize efforts that are currently under way to alter this paradigm and open the door to new opportunities for using Earth-abundant materials for photoinduced electron transfer chemistries.

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