Indigoid Photoswitches: Visible Light Responsive Molecular Tools
Indigoid photoswitches comprise a class of chromophores that are derived from the parent and well-known indigo dye. Different from most photoswitches their core structures absorb in the visible region of the spectrum in both isomeric states even without substitutions, which makes them especially interesting for applications not tolerant of high-energy UV light. Also different from most current photoswitching systems, they provide highly rigid structures that undergo large yet precisely controllable geometry changes upon photoisomerization. The favorable combination of pronounced photochromism, fast and efficient photoreactions, and high thermal bistability have led to a strongly increased interest in indigoid photoswitches over the last years. As a result, intriguing applications of these chromophores as reversible triggering units in supramolecular and biological chemistry, the field of molecular machines, or smart molecules have been put forward. In this Account current developments in the synthesis, mechanistic understanding of light responsiveness, advantageous properties as phototools, and new applications of indigoid photoswitches are summarized with the focus on hemithioindigo, hemiindigo, and indigo as key examples.