Is Excited State Aromaticity a Driving Force for Planarization of Dibenzannelated 8π-Electron Heterocycles?

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Compounds with dibenzannelated heterocycles with eight π‐electrons are found in a range of applications. These molecules often adopt a bent structure in the ground state (S0) but can become planar in the first excited states (S1 and T1) because of the cyclically conjugated 4nπ central ring, which fulfils the requirements for excited state aromaticity. We report on a quantum chemical investigation of the aromatic character in the S1 and T1 states of dibenzannelated seven‐ and six‐membered heterocycles with one, two, or three heteroatoms in the 8π‐electron ring. These states could have ππ* or nπ* character. We find that compounds with one or two heteroatoms in the central ring have ππ* states as their S1 and T1 states. They are to a significant degree influenced by excited state aromaticity, and their optimal structures are planar or nearly planar. Among the heteroatoms, nitrogen provides for the strongest excited state aromaticity whereas oxygen provides for the weakest, following the established trend of the S0 state. Yet, dibenzannelated seven‐membered‐ring compounds with N=N bonds have non‐aromatic nπ* states with strongly puckered structures as their S1 and T1 states ​
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