Proton-coupled electron transfer (PCET) processes are among the most important phenomena that control a variety of chemical and biological transformations. Although extensively studied in a variety of natural systems and discrete metal complexes, PCET mechanisms are less well codified in the case of purely organic compounds. Here we report that a planar β,β′- phenylene-bridged hexaphyrin (18.104.22.168.1.0), a 24 π-electron antiaromatic species termed rosarin, displays unique redox reactivity on protonation. Specifically, treatment with acid (for example, HI) yields a 26 π-electron aromatic triprotonated monocationic species that is produced spontaneously via an intermediate - but stable - 25 π-electron non-aromatic triprotonated monoradical dication. This latter species is also produced on treatment of the original 24 π-electron antiaromatic starting material with HCl or HBr. The stepwise nature of the proton-coupled reduction observed in the planar rosarin stands in marked contrast to that seen for non-annulated rosarins and other ostensibly antiaromatic expanded porphyrinoids.
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