Mono- and di-quaternized 4,4'-bipyridine derivatives constitute a family of heterocyclic compounds, which in recent years have been employed in numerous applications. These applications correspond to various disciplines of research and technology. In their majority, two key features of these 4,4'-bipyridine-based derivatives are exploited: their redox activity and their electrochromic aptitude. Contemporary materials and compounds encompassing these skeletons as building blocks are often characterized as multifunctional, as their presence often gives rise to interesting phenomena, e.g., various types of chromism. This research trend is acknowledged, and, in this review article, recent examples of multifunctional chromic materials/compounds of this class are presented. Emphasis is placed on solvent-/medium- and environment-responsive 4,4'-bipyridine derivatives. Two important classes of 4,4'-bipyridine-based products with solvatochromic and/or environment-responsive character are reviewed: viologens (i.e., N,N'-disubstituted derivatives) and monoquats (i.e., monosubstituted 4,4'-bipyridine derivatives). The multifunctional nature of these derivatives is analyzed and structure-property relations are discussed in connection to the role of these derivatives in various novel applications.
Keywords: environment-responsive materials; medium-responsive compounds; monoquats; solvatochromism; thermochromism; viologens.