Electronic structure of linear thiophenolate-bridged heteronuclear complexes [LFeMFeL](n)(+) (M = Cr, Co, Fe; n = 1-3): a combination of kinetic exchange interaction and electron delocalization

Liviu F Chibotaru, Jean-Jacques Girerd, Geneviève Blondin, Thorsten Glaser, Karl Wieghardt
Journal of the American Chemical Society 2003 October 15, 125 (41): 12615-30
The electronic properties of the isostructural series of heterotrinuclear thiophenolate-bridged complexes of the general formula [LFeMFeL](n)(+) with M = Cr, Co and Fe where L represents the trianionic form of the ligand 1,4,7-tris(4-tertbutyl-2-mercaptobenzyl)-1,4,7-triazacyclononane, synthesized and investigated by a number of experimental techniques in the previous work(1), are subjected now to a theoretical analysis. The low-lying electronic excitations in these compounds are described within a minimal model supported by experiment and quantum chemistry calculations. It was found indeed that various experimental data concerning the magnetism and electron delocalization in the lowest states of all seven compounds are completely reproduced within a model which includes the electron transfer between magnetic orbitals at different metal centers and the electron repulsion in these orbitals (the Hubbard model). Moreover, due to the trigonal symmetry of the complexes, only the electron transfer between nondegenerate orbital, a(1), originating from the t(2g) shell of each metal ion in a pseudo-octahedral coordination, is relevant for the lowest states. An essential feature resulting from quantum chemistry calculations, allowing to explain the unusual magnetic properties of these compounds, is the surprisingly large value and, especially, the negative sign of the electron transfer between terminal iron ions, beta'. According to their electronic properties the series of complexes can be divided as follows: (1). The complexes [LFeFeFeL](3+) and [LFeCrFeL](3+) show localized valences in the ground electronic configuration. The strong antiferromagnetic exchange interaction and the resulting spin 1/2 of the ground-state arise from large values of the transfer parameters. (2). In the complex [LFeCrFeL](+), due to a higher energy of the magnetic orbital on the central Cr ion than on the terminal Fe ones, the spin 3/2 and the single unpaired a(1) electron are almost localized at the chromium center in the ground state. (3). The complex [LFeCoFeL](3+) has one ground electronic configuration in which two unpaired electrons are localized at terminal iron ions. The ground-state spin S = 1 arises from a kinetic mechanism involving the electron transfer between terminal iron ions as one of the steps. Such a mechanism, leading to a strong ferromagnetic interaction between distant spins, apparently has not been discussed before. (4). The complex [LFeFeFeL](2+) is characterized by both spin and charge degrees of freedom in the ground manifold. The stabilization of the total spin zero or one of the itinerant electrons depends on beta', i.e., corresponds to the observed S = 1 for its negative sign. This behavior does not fit into the double exchange model. (5). In [LFeCrFeL](2+) the delocalization of two itinerant holes in a(1) orbitals takes place over the magnetic core of chromium ion. Although the origin of the ground-state spin S = 2 is the spin dependent delocalization, the spectrum of the low-lying electronic states is again not of a double exchange type. (6). Finally, the complex [LFeCoFeL](2+) has the ground configuration corresponding to the electron delocalization between terminal iron atoms. The estimated magnitude of the corresponding electron transfer is smaller than the relaxation energy of the nuclear distortions induced by the electron localization at one of the centers, leading to vibronic valence trapping observed in this compound.

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