• cyclic voltammetry;
  • density functional calculations;
  • dyes/pigments;
  • NIR absorptions


A series of novel aza-diisoindolmethine dyes 9 with six different aryl and heteroaryl groups at the indole moiety have been synthesized by the addition of aryl Grignard compounds to phthalodinitrile and subsequent reaction with formamide. A plausible reaction mechanism, through a Leuckart–Wallach-type reduction has been confirmed by means of DFT calculations of the related transition and intermediate states. The corresponding boron difluoride complexes (10) of 9 were prepared in a subsequent reaction step and the spectroscopic and electrochemical properties of 9 and 10 have been investigated both experimentally and theoretically. The aza-diisoindolmethines 9 exhibit an absorption maximum in the range from 615 to 720 nm, whereas the complexes 10 show a bathochromically shifted absorption maximum between 681 and 793 nm. Measurements of 9 and 10 by cyclic voltammetry display fully reversible redox waves for the reduction and oxidation with higher potentials for 10. From the measured redox potentials, the HOMO and LUMO energy levels were calculated for 9 and 10. The frontier orbital energies, the energies of the absorption bands, as well as the orbitals involved in the absorption process were calculated with DFT and compared to the measured results of 9 and 10. The absorption maximum can be related to an intense HOMO–LUMO transition and the more-pronounced stabilization of the LUMO upon complexation is the origin of the bathochromic shift of the absorption. Additionally, single-crystal structures for two species, 10 d and 10 f, are reported.