The interaction between the sodium cation and two meso-aryl porphyrins (tetraphenylporphyrin, TPP, and tetra(4-methoxyphenyl)porphyrin, TMPP) leads to the formation of new species that have been identified as Sitting-Atop (SAT) complexes, where the metal ion interacts with the N atoms of the porphyrin core without the concomitant deprotonation of the N−H groups. These species have been attained in low polarity solvent through the interaction of the porphyrin free bases with sodium tetrakis[3,5-bis(trifluoromethyl)phenyl]borate (NaTFPB), and investigated in situ through a combination of spectroscopic techniques, such as UV/vis absorption and fluorescence (static and time-resolved), resonance light scattering, FT-IR, and 1H NMR. All spectroscopic evidence points to the occurrence of a single equilibrium between each parent compound and its SAT complex, ruling out the presence of other metallo-, protonated, or aggregated porphyrins in solution. The 1:1 stoichiometry of the adducts has been determined via continuous variation method (Job’s plot), and an estimate of the corresponding association constants in CH2Cl2 at 298 K have been obtained by UV/vis titration (Keq = (9 ± 4) × 105 L mol−1 and (5 ± 2) × 106 L mol−1 for TPP and TMPP, respectively). Density-functional theory (DFT) calculations on SAT model complexes, [NaTPP(PF6)] and [NaTMPP(PF6)], have provided information on the molecular structure of these elusive species and on the nature and strength of the sodium−porphyrin interaction. It is found that the sodium ion is bound to the four nitrogen atoms of the porphyrin core. The involvement of the pyrrolic N atoms results in a modest but not negligible elongation of the N−H bonds, pyramidalization of the hydrogen atoms, and blue shift of the N−H stretching frequencies. Electronic structure and energy decomposition analysis reveal that covalent interactions, mainly consisting of porphyrin to sodium charge transfer interactions, are an important component of the sodium-porphyrin bond. Time-dependent DFT (TDDFT) calculations of the lowest excited states of the model systems provide an unambiguous interpretation of the absorption and emission properties of the experimentally identified SAT complexes.
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