Angular Momentum Conservation in Dipolar Energy Transfer

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Conservation of angular momentum is a familiar tenet in science but has seldom been invoked to understand (or predict) chemical processes. We have developed a general formalism based on Wigner's original ideas concerning angular momentum conservation to interpret the photo-induced reactivity of two molecular donor-acceptor assemblies with physical properties synthetically tailored to facilitate intramolecular energy transfer. Steady-state and time-resolved spectroscopic data establishing excited-state energy transfer from a rhenium(1)-based charge-transfer state to a chromium(III) acceptor can be fully accounted for by Forster theory, whereas the corresponding cobalt(III) adduct does not undergo an analogous reaction despite having a larger cross-section for dipolar coupling. Because this pronounced difference in reactivity is easily explained within the context of the angular momentum conservation model, this relatively simple construct may provide a means for systematizing a broad range of chemical reactions.

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