Electrochemical behavior of the dioxygen (O2)/superoxide ion (O2-) redox couple in acetonitrile (AN) solutions containing indole compounds and no proton acceptor, and their chemiluminescence have been examined using spectroelectrochemical techniques. In AN solutions, in the presence of indole compounds having a substituent at the N-position (e.g. 1-methylindole and 1,2-dimethylindole), these indole compounds did not work as a proton donor to electrogenerated O2-, and did not affect the redox reaction of the O2/O2-couple. On the other hand, the indole compounds bearing a hydrogen at the N-position (e.g. indole, 3-methylindole (3-MI), tryptamine (TP), 3-indolemethanol and 3-indoleacetic acid) acted as a proton donor to O2-. In addition, chemiluminescence was observed for some of the indole compounds having a hydrogen at the N-position and an electron-releasing group at the 3-position (i.e. TP, 2,3-dimethylindole, 2-(3-indole)-ethanol and 3-MI). The intensity of chemiluminescence of 3-MI was by far the strongest among those of the above four compounds. The chemiluminescent reaction of the indole compounds seemed to have close connection with electrogeneration of O2-, which functioned as a proton acceptor to the indole compounds, and the chemical stability of a radical species (i.e. a one-electron oxidized form of conjugate base of indole compounds) due to the substituent which is present at the 3-position. The chemiluminescence was considered to occur via the formation of 1,2-dioxetane-like intermediates. The reaction mechanisms of chemiluminescence based on the electrogenerated O2-were briefly discussed. © 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.
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