Intramolecular electron transfer (ET) over distances up to about 10 Å between states in which the electron is localized on donor and acceptor groups by interaction with molecular or external solvent nuclear motion occurs, in particular, in two classes of systems. The excess electron in anionic radicals containing two aromatic end groups connected by a flexible polymethylene chain or a rigid cyclohexane frame is thus trapped on either aromatic end group, and ET between these groups can be detected by ESR techniques. Intramolecular ET also occurs in binuclear transition metal complexes in which the coupling between the metal centers [(Ru(II)/Ru(III) and Ru(II)/Co(III) couples] is sufficiently weak (class I or II mixed valence compounds). The ET mechanism can involve either direct transfer between the donor and acceptor groups or a higher order mechanism in which ET proceeds through intermediate states corresponding to the localization of the electron on the interconnecting fragments. We have derived rate expressions for the different conceivable intramolecular ET pathways. In particular, we have incorporated the nuclear motion not only in the initial and final states but also in the intermediate states. We have furthermore provided criteria for the distinction between direct ET, ET through high-energy (superexchange), and low-energy (''radical'' intermediate mechanism) intermediate states on the basis of experimental rate data and illustrated this with data for organic radical anions, and for intramolecular and inner sphere ET for transition metal complexes. The Journal of Chemical Physics is copyrighted by The American Institute of Physics.
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