Ultrafast photo-induced ligand solvolysis of cis-[Ru(bipyridine)2(nicotinamide)2]2+: experimental and theoretical insight into its photoactivation mechanism†
Mechanistic insight into the photo-induced solvent substitution reaction of cis-[Ru(bipyridine)2(nicotinamide)2]2+ (1) is presented. Complex 1 is a photoactive species, designed to display high cytotoxicity following irradiation, for potential use in photodynamic therapy (photochemotherapy). In Ru(II) complexes of this type, efficient population of a dissociative triplet metal-centred (3MC) state is key to generating high quantum yields of a penta-coordinate intermediate (PCI) species, which in turn may form the target species: a mono-aqua photoproduct [Ru(bipyridine)2(nicotinamide)(H2O)]2+ (2). Following irradiation of 1, a thorough kinetic picture is derived from ultrafast UV/Vis transient absorption spectroscopy measurements, using a ‘target analysis’ approach, and provides both timescales and quantum yields for the key processes involved. We show that photoactivation of 1 to 2 occurs with a quantum yield ≥0.36, all within a timeframe of ∼400 ps. Characterization of the excited states involved, particularly the nature of the PCI and how it undergoes a geometry relaxation to accommodate the water ligand, which is a keystone in the efficiency of the photoactivation of 1, is accomplished through state-of-the-art computation including complete active space self-consistent field methods and time-dependent density functional theory. Importantly, the conclusions here provide a detailed understanding of the initial stages involved in this photoactivation and the foundation required for designing more efficacious photochemotherapy drugs of this type.