A rare earth metallocene containing a 2,2′-azopyridyl radical anion†
Introducing spin onto organic ligands that are coordinated to rare earth metal ions allows direct exchange with metal spin centres. This is particularly relevant for the deeply buried 4f-orbitals of the lanthanide ions that can give rise to unparalleled magnetic properties. For efficacy of exchange coupling, the donor atoms of the radical ligand require high-spin density. Such molecules are extremely rare owing to their reactive nature that renders isolation and purification difficult. Here, we demonstrate that a 2,2′-azopyridyl (abpy) radical (S = 1/2) bound to the rare earth metal yttrium can be realized. This molecule represents the first rare earth metal complex containing an abpy radical and is unambigously characterized by X-ray crystallography, NMR, UV-Vis-NIR, and IR spectroscopy. In addition, the most stable isotope 89Y with a natural abundance of 100% and a nuclear spin of ½ allows an in-depth analysis of the yttrium–radical complex via EPR and HYSCORE spectroscopy. Further insight into the electronic ground state of the radical azobispyridine-coordinated metal complex was realized through unrestricted DFT calculations, which suggests that the unpaired spin density of the SOMO is heavily localized on the azo and pyridyl nitrogen atoms. The experimental results are supported by NBO calculations and give a comprehensive picture of the spin density of the azopyridyl ancillary ligand. This unexplored azopyridyl radical anion in heavy element chemistry bears crucial implications for the design of molecule-based magnets particularly comprising anisotropic lanthanide ions.