A curve-crossing model to rationalize and optimize diarylethene dyads†
Going from photochromic compounds presenting a single switchable function to multi-addressable photochromic multimers remains an extremely difficult task notably because the interactions of several photochromic units through a linker generally result in a substantial loss of photoactivity. Due to their size and the intrinsic complexity of their electronic structure, coupled photochromes also constitute a fundamental challenge for theoretical chemistry. We present here an effective curve-crossing model that, used in connection with easily accessible ab initio data, allows a first understanding of the difficulty to obtain efficient multiphotochromes. Indeed, we demonstrate that extra crossing points, specific to multiphotochromes, have to be passed to ensure reactivity. In addition, the proposed approach allows the definition of an intuitive tilt criterion that can be used to screen a large number of substitution patterns and hence help in the design of new compounds, an aspect that is also developed here. The compatibility of this tilt criterion with previously proposed static Franck–Condon parameters is discussed as well.