1,3-Di(2-pyridyl)benzene (dpybH) structurally resembles the widely-used ligand terpyridine (tpy), with which it is isoelectronic. In this critical review, following a brief overview of synthetic strategies for dpybH and derivatives, we survey the different types of complex that are possible with these ligands. Whilst metals such as ruthenium(II), osmium(II) and platinum(II) give a terdentate N⁁C⁁N binding mode in which cyclometallation occurs at C2, the ions iridium(III), rhodium(III) and palladium(II) favour C4 metallation. The latter process can be blocked by appropriate ligand modification, to allow the N⁁C⁁N mode to be accessed with these metal ions too. The luminescence properties of the complexes are discussed. A huge range of emission efficiencies are encountered amongst Ir(III) complexes containing dpyb derivatives, according to the other ligands present. Trends can be rationalised with the aid of simple frontier-orbital considerations. The Pt(II) complexes of dipyridylbenzenes are also intensely luminescent. Their application to contemporary organic light-emitting device (OLED) technology is discussed, including white light emitters exploiting excimer emission. Their potential as cell imaging agents amenable to time-resolved detection procedures on the microsecond timescale has also been demonstrated (118 references).
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