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A charge-transfer (CT) complex or electron-donor-acceptor complex is an association of two or more molecules, in which a fraction of electronic charge is transferred between the molecular entities. The resulting electrostatic attraction provides a stabilizing force for the molecular complex. The source molecule from which the charge is transferred is called the electron donor and the receiving species is called the electron acceptor.
The charge-transfer association occurs in a chemical equilibrium with the independent donor (D) and acceptor (A) molecules:[not verified in body]
Electron donor-acceptor complexes
A number of organic compounds form electron-donor-acceptor complexes (EDA complexes). Typical acceptors are nitrobenzenes or tetracyanoethylene. The strength of their interaction with electron donors correlates with the ionization potentials of the components. For TCNE, the stability constants (L/mol) for its complexes with benzene derivatives correlates with the number of methyl groups: benzene (0.128), 1,3,5-trimethylbenzene (1.11), 1,2,4,5-tetramethylbenzene (3.4), and hexamethylbenzene (16.8).
1,3,5-Trinitrobenzene and related polynitrated aromatic compounds, being electron-deficient, form charge-transfer complexes with many arenes. Such complexes form upon crystallization, but often dissociate in solution to the components. Characteristically, these CT salts crystallize in stacks of alternating donor and acceptor (nitro aromatic) molecules, i.e. A-B-A-B.
Dihalogen/interhalogen CT complexes
Dihalogens X2 (X = Cl, Br, I) and interhalogens XY(X = I; Y = Cl, Br) are Lewis acid species capable of forming a variety of products when reacted with donor species. Among these species (including oxidation or protonated products), CT adducts D·XY have been largely investigated. The CT interaction has been quantified and is the basis of many schemes for parameterizing donor and acceptor properties, such as those devised by Gutmann, Childs, Beckett, and the ECW model.
Many organic species featuring chalcogen or pnicogen donor atoms form CT salts. The nature of the resulting adducts can be investigated both in solution and in the solid state.
In solution, the intensity of charge-transfer bands in the UV-Vis absorbance spectrum is strongly dependent upon the degree (equilibrium constant) of this association reaction. Methods have been developed to determine the equilibrium constant for these complexes in solution by measuring the intensity of absorption bands as a function of the concentration of donor and acceptor components in solution. The Benesi-Hildebrand method, named for its developers, was first described for the association of iodine dissolved in aromatic hydrocarbons.
In the solid state a valuable parameter is the elongation of the X–X or X–Y bond length, resulting from the antibonding nature of the σ* LUMO. The elongation can be evaluated by means of structural determinations (XRD) and FT-Raman spectroscopy.
A well-known example is the complex formed by iodine when combined with starch, which exhibits an intense purple charge-transfer band. This has widespread use as a rough screen for counterfeit currency. Unlike most paper, the paper used in US currency is not sized with starch. Thus, formation of this purple color on application of an iodine solution indicates a counterfeit.
TTF-TCNQ: prototype for electrically conducting complexes
In 1954, charge-transfer salts derived from perylene with iodine or bromine were reported with resistivities as low as 8 ohm·cm. In 1973, it was discovered that a combination tetracyanoquinodimethane (TCNQ) and tetrathiafulvalene (TTF) was shown to form a strong charge-transfer complex, henceforth referred to as TTF-TCNQ. The solid shows almost metallic electrical conductance and was the first discovered purely organic conductor. In a TTF-TCNQ crystal, TTF and TCNQ molecules are arranged independently in separate parallel-aligned stacks, and an electron transfer occurs from donor (TTF) to acceptor (TCNQ) stacks. Hence, electrons and electron holes are separated and concentrated in the stacks and can traverse in a one-dimensional direction along the TCNQ and TTF columns, respectively, when an electric potential is applied to the ends of a crystal in the stack direction.
Superconductivity is exhibited by tetramethyl-tetraselenafulvalene-hexafluorophosphate (TMTSF2PF6), which is a semi-conductor at ambient conditions, shows superconductivity at low temperature (critical temperature) and high pressure: 0.9 K and 12 kbar. Critical current densities in these complexes are very small.
Many reactions involving nucleophiles attacking electrophiles can be usefully assessed from the perspective of an incipient charge-transfer complex. Examples include electrophilic aromatic substitution, the addition of Grignard reagents to ketones, and brominolysis of metal-alkyl bonds.
- Organic semiconductor
- Organic superconductor
- Exciplex - a special case where one of the molecules is in an excited state
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