Journal article

Cationic Iridium(III) Complexes with Two Carbene-Based Cyclometalating Ligands: Cis Versus Trans Isomers

A series of cationic iridium(III) complexes with two carbene-based cyclometalating ligands and five different N<^>N bipyridine and 1,10-phenanthroline ancillary ligands is presented. For the first time in the frame of a rarely studied class of bis(heteroleptic) iridium complexes with two carbene-based cyclometalating ligands a pair of cis and trans isomers has been isolated. All complexes (trans-1-5 and cis-3) were characterized by H-1 NMR, C-13 NMR, P-31 NMR, and HRMS (ESI-TOF); in addition, crystal structures of cis-3 and trans-4 are reported and discussed. Cyclic voltammetric studies show that the whole series exhibits highly reversible oxidation and reduction processes, suggesting promising potential for optoelectronic applications. Ground-state DFT and TD-DFT calculations nicely predict the blue shift experimentally observed in the room-temperature absorption and emission spectra of cis-3, compared to the trans complexes. In CH3CN, cis-3 displays a 4-fold increase in photoluminescence quantum yield (PLQY) with respect to trans-3, as a consequence of drastically slower nonradiative rate constant. By contrast, at 77 K, the emission properties of all the compounds, including the cis isomer, are much more similar, with a pronounced hypsochromic shift for the trans complexes. A similar behavior is found in solid state (1% w/w poly(methyl methacrylate) matrix), with all complexes displaying PLQY of similar to 70-80%, comparable emission lifetimes (tau approximate to 1.3 mu s), and a remarkable rigidochromic shift. To rationalize the more pronounced nonradiative deactivation (and smaller PLQY) observed for photoexcited trans complexes, comparative temperature-dependent emission studies in the range of 77-450 K for cis-3 and trans-3 were made in propylene glycol, showing that solvation effects are primarily responsible for the observed behavior.


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