A ruthenium(II) complex with two 4,4′-bis(trifluoromethyl)-2,2′-bipyridine chelates and a 2-(2′-pyridyl)imidazole ligand was synthesized and characterized by electrochemical and optical spectroscopic means. The respective complex has the potential to act as a combined electron–proton donor when promoted to its long-lived 3MLCT excited state with visible light. The possibility of proton-coupled electron transfer (PCET) between the ruthenium(II) complex and 1,4-benzoquinone as an electron/proton acceptor was explored by steady-state and time-resolved luminescence spectroscopy, as well as by transient absorption spectroscopy in the nanosecond time regime. Excited-state deactivation is found to occur predominantly via simple oxidative quenching involving no proton motion, but a minor fraction of the photoexcited complex appears to react via PCET since there is spectral evidence for semiquinone as a photoproduct. Presumably, PCET is not kinetically competitive with simple electron transfer because the latter process is sufficiently exergonic and because there is little thermodynamic benefit from coupling proton transfer to the photoinduced electron transfer.
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