Rational design of high-spin biradicaloids in the isobenzofulvene and isobenzoheptafulvene series

J Phys Chem A. 2012 May 31;116(21):5272-91. doi: 10.1021/jp304015k. Epub 2012 May 17.


The relative energies of singlet biradicaloid and of triplet and singlet biradical electronic states for a series of benzannelated isobenzofulvenes and isobenzoheptafulvenes were calculated at the (u-)B3LYP/6-31G(d), full π-space CASSCF-CASPT2 (≤14 π-e(-)s), and full π-space RASSCF-RASPT2 (≤24 π-e(-)s) levels of theory. Both absolute and relative CASPT2 energies were reproduced quite well by the RASPT2 approach, which can be extended to much larger active spaces. RASPT2 (and DFT) calculations find that increasing benzannelation leads to triplet ground states in both hydrocarbon series, in violation of the classical principle of maximum bonding. This confirmed the expectations that the combined effects of resonance energy and aromaticity could compensate for the extra formal π-bond of the biradicaloid singlet, and that the strong exchange coupling inherent to the embedded trimethylenemethane (TMM) would manifest itself in the biradicaloids. The relative energy of the biradicaloid singlet rises rapidly upon benzannelation, as π-bonding between the high-energy delocalized GVB orbitals decreases. The underlying π-orbital topology is revealed when this weak π-bonding is artificially eliminated by a 1:1 mixing of the nondegenerate HOMO and LUMO to produce an overcorrelated valence bond (OCVB) orbital pair. For members of both biradicaloid series, the OCVB pairs are nondisjoint, revealing a limiting triplet preference with increasing benzannelation. Within the two-electron, two-orbital approximation, the effects of π-bonding in the singlet biradicaloids and orbital localization away from the acene π-system in the triplet biradicals can be analyzed as perturbations of the singlet OCVB biradicals. The application of a VB-based spin coupling scheme is discussed, in which the unpaired electrons of these species can be considered both ferromagnetically and antiferromagnetically coupled, with the strength of the latter strongly dependent on the acene subunit.