Expansion by Contraction: Diversifying the Photochemical Reactivity Scope of Diazo-oxochlorins toward Development of <i>in Situ</i> Alkylating Agents

Irradiation of 2-diazo-3-oxochlorins (200 W, λ ≥ 345 nm, 10 °C) in the presence of nucleophilic and biomimetic substrates 1-butanol, tosylhydrazine, or tetrahydrofurfuryl alcohol generates Wolff-rearranged, pyrrole ring-contracted azeteoporphyrinoids in 11−34% yield, with the corresponding hydroxyporphyrins in up to 55% yield. For metalated diazo-oxochlorins, these products compete with intramolecular exocyclic ring formation by <i>meso</i>-phenyl ring addition, which occurs in up to 76% yield in the absence of substrate. The dependence of product distribution on substrate is established by photolysis in neat dichlorometane. Under these conditions, formation of the Wolff-rearranged product is inhibited and the phenyl addition product dominates (76%) due to the absence of a good nucleophile. A conceptually analogous dependence is also observed for the free-base derivative, with the exocyclic ring-containing dimerization product isolated in 42% yield. The third reaction pathway, formation of the hydroxyporphyrin, is enhanced by the presence of non-nucleophilic, oxidizable substrates such as 1,4-cyclohexadiene (M = Cu; 55%); however, in the presence of the bulky and oxidatively more stable <i>tert</i>-butyl alcohol, intramolecular exocyclic ring-quenching is observed in 51% yield with no detection of the hydroxyporphyrin. X-ray structure characterization of the azeteoporphyrinoids reveals a planar macrocycle, illustrating the strong influence of periphery contraction. Specifically, the copper-containing azeteoporphyrinoids show remarkably short Cu−N<sub>azete</sub> distances of 1.88−1.90 Å. All porphyrinoid photoproducts possess intense absorption bands throughout the visible spectral region, indicating that ring-contracted substrate adducts, as well as phenyl ring addition products, maintain porphyrinoid aromaticity. Overall, the ability of these chromophores to photochemically react under substrate control may make unimolecular porphyrinoid photoreagents such as these useful for applications in photobiology or O<sub>2</sub>-independent photodynamic therapy.