Molecules 2020 Jun 5;25(11). Epub 2020 Jun 5.
Department of Chemistry, the Pennsylvania State University at Hazleton, Hazleton, PA 18202, USA.
Photochromic compounds have a lengthy history of study and a profusion of applications that stand to gain from these studies. Among the classes of photochromic compounds, diarylethenes show desirable properties including high fatigue resistance and thermal stability, thus meeting some of the most important criteria necessary to enter the realm of practical applications. Recently, photochromic diarylethenes containing quinone functionalities have demonstrated interesting optical and solid-state properties. When properly interfaced with suitable electron withdrawing groups on the aryl component, both the ring-opening and ring-closing reactions can be achieved with visible light; this is in contrast to most other diarylethenes where UV light is required for ring closure. Unfortunately, quantitative conversion from open to closed forms is not possible. In this work, we examine the relative energies of conformations of solid-state structures observed by X-ray crystallography and evaluate their thermal stabilities based on density functional theory (DFT) calculations. Time-dependent DFT (TD-DFT) is used to model the UV-vis absorption spectra of these quinone diarylethenes. We show that spectral overlap between open and closed forms is a major hindrance to full photoconversion.