Structural Capture of η1-OSO to η2-(OS)O Coordination Isomerism in a New Ruthenium-Based SO2-Linkage Photoisomer That Exhibits Single-Crystal Optical Actuation.
Recent discoveries of a range of single-crystal optical actuators are feeding a new form of materials chemistry, given their broad range of potential applications, from light-induced molecular motors to light sensors and optical-memory media. A series of ruthenium-based coordination complexes that exhibit sulfur dioxide linkage photoisomerization is of particular interest because they exhibit single-crystal optical actuation via either optical switching or nano-optomechanical transduction processes. We report the discovery of a new complex in this series of chemicals, [Ru(SO2)(NH3)4(3-fluoropyridine)]tosylate2 (1), which forms an η1-OSO photoisomer with 70% photoconversion upon the application of 505 nm light. The uncoordinated oxygen atom in this η1-OSO photoisomer impinges on one of the arene rings in a neighboring tosylate counter ion of 1 just enough that incipient nano-optomechanical transduction is observed. The structure and optical properties of this actuator are characterized via in situ light-induced single-crystal X-ray diffraction (photocrystallography), single-crystal optical absorption spectroscopy and microscopy, as well as single-crystal Raman spectroscopy. These materials-characterization methods were also used to track thermally induced reverse isomerization processes in 1. One of these processes involves an η1-OSO to η2-(OS)O transition, which was found to proceed sufficiently slowly at 110 K that its structural mechanism could be determined via a time sequence of photocrystallography experiments. The resulting data allowed us to structurally capture the transition, which was shown to occur via a form of coordination isomerism. Our newfound knowledge about this structural mechanism will aid the molecular design of new [RuSO2] complexes with functional applications.