The electron transfer (ET) to a series of para-substituted diaryl disulfides, having the general formula (X-C6H4S-)2, has been studied. The X groups were selected as to have a comprehensive variation of the substituent effect, being X = NH2, MeO, H, F, Cl, CO2Et, CN, and NO2. The reduction was carried out experimentally, using N,N-dimethylformamide as the solvent, and by molecular orbital (MO) ab initio calculations. The ET was studied heterogeneously, by voltammetric reduction and convolution analysis, and homogeneously, by using electrogenerated radical anions as the solution electron donors. The reduction is dissociative, leading to the cleavage of the S-S bond in a stepwise manner. Both experimental approaches led us to estimate the Edegrees and the intrinsic barrier values for the formation of the radical anions. Comparison of the independently obtained results allowed obtaining, for the first time, a quantitative description of the correlation between heterogeneous and homogeneous rate constants of ETs associated with significant inner reorganization energy. The experimental outcome was fully supported by the theoretical calculations, which provided information about the disulfide lowest unoccupied MOs (LUMOs) and singly occupied MO (SOMO), the bond dissociation energies, and the most significant structural modifications associated with radical anion formation. With disulfides bearing electron-donating or mildly electron-withdrawing groups, the inner reorganization is particularly large, which reflects the significant stretching of the S-S bond experienced by the molecule upon ET. The process entails formation of loose radical anion species in which the SOMO is heavily localized, as the LUMO, onto the frangible bond. As a consequence of the formation of these sigma*-radical anions, the S-S bond energy of the latter is rather small and the cleavage rate constant is very large. With electron-withdrawing groups, the extent of delocalization of the SOMO onto the aryl system increases, leading to a decrease of the reorganization energy for radical anion formation. Interestingly, while the LUMO now has,pi* character, the actual reduction intermediate (and thus the SOMO) is still a sigma*-type radical anion. With the nitro-substituted disulfide, very limited inner reorganization is required and a pi*-radical anion initially forms. A nondissociative type intramolecular ET then ensues, leading to the formation of a new radical anion whose antibonding orbital has similar features as those of the SOMO of the other diaryl disulfides. Therefore, independently of the substituent, the actual S-S bond cleavage occurs in a quite similar way along the series investigated. The S-S bond cleavage rate, however, tends to decrease as the Hammett sigma increases, which would be in keeping with an increase of both the electronic and solvent reorganization energies.
Formation and cleavage of aromatic disulfide radical anions / S., Antonello; K., Daasbjerg; H., Jensen; Taddei, Ferdinando; F., Maran. - In: JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN CHEMICAL SOCIETY. - ISSN 0002-7863. - 125:48(2003), pp. 14905-14916. [10.1021/ja036380g]