Promoting the furan ring opening reaction to access new donor–acceptor stenhouse adducts with hexafluoroisopropanol

Michèle Clerc, Friedrich Stricker, Sebastian Ulrich, Miranda Sroda, Nico Bruns, Luciano F. Boesel, Javier Read de Alaniz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Donor–acceptor Stenhouse adducts (DASAs) are visible light-responsive photoswitches with a variety of emerging applications in photoresponsive materials. Their two-step modular synthesis centered on the nucleophilic ring opening of an activated furan makes DASAs readily accessible. However, the more recent introduction of less reactive donors or acceptors renders the process slow and low yielding, which has limited their development. We demonstrate here that 1,1,1,3,3,3-hexafluoro-2-propanol (HFIP) promotes the ring opening reaction and stabilizes the open isomer, allowing for greatly reduced reaction times and increased yields for known derivatives. In addition, it provides access to previously unattainable DASA based photoswitches and DASA-polymer conjugates. The role of HFIP and the photochromic properties of a set of new DASAs, presented here, is probed using a combination of 1H-NMR and UV-Vis spectroscopy. By introducing sterically hindered, electron poor amines the dark equilibrium was decoupled from closed isomer half-lives for the first time.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages9
JournalAngewandte Chemie International Edition
Early online date27 Jan 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 27 Jan 2021


  • donor-acceptor Stenhouse adducts
  • hexafluoroisopropanol
  • hydrogen bonds
  • photochromic materials
  • photoswitches
  • synthetic methods

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