The bidentate ligands N-phenyl-o-phenylenediamine, H(2)((2)L(N)IP), or its analogue 2-(2-trifluoromethyl)anilino-4,6-di-tert-butylphenol, ((4)L(N)IP), react with [Co(II)(CH(3)CO(2))(2)]4H(2)O and triethylamine in acetonitrile in the presence of air yielding the square-planar, four-coordinate species [Co((2)L(N))(2)] (1) and [Co((4)L(O))(2)] (4) with an S=1/2 ground state. The corresponding nickel complexes [Ni((4)L(O))(2)] (8) and its cobaltocene reduced form [Co(III)(Cp)(2)][Ni((4)L(O))(2)] (9) have also been synthesized. The five-coordinate species [Co((2)L(N))(2)(tBu-py)] (2) (S=1/2) and its one-electron oxidized forms [Co((2)L(N))(2)(tBu-py)](O(2)CCH(3)) (2 a) or [Co((2)L(N))(2)I] (3) with diamagnetic ground states (S=0) have been prepared, as has the species [Co((4)L(O))(2)(CH(2)CN)] (7). The one-electron reduced form of 4, namely [Co(Cp)(2)][Co((4)L(O))(2)] (5) has been generated through the reduction of 4 with [Co(Cp)(2)]. Complexes 1, 2, 2 a, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, and 9 have been characterized by X-ray crystallography (100 K). The ligands are non-innocent and may exist as catecholate-like dianions ((2)L(N)IP)(2-), ((4)L(N)IP)(2-) or pi-radical semiquinonate monoanions ((2)L(N)ISQ)(*) (-), ((4)L(N)ISQ)(*) (-) or as neutral benzoquinones ((2) L(N)IBQ)(0), ((4) L(N)IBQ)(0); the spectroscopic oxidation states of the central metal ions vary accordingly. Electronic absorption, magnetic circular dichroism, and EPR spectroscopy, as well as variable temperature magnetic susceptibility measurements have been used to experimentally determine the electronic structures of these complexes. Density functional theoretical (DFT) and correlated ab initio calculation have been performed on the neutral and monoanionic species [Co((1)L(N))(2)](0,-) in order to understand the structural and spectroscopic properties of complexes. It is shown that the corresponding nickel complexes 8 and 9 contain a low-spin nickel(II) ion regardless of the oxidation level of the ligand, whereas for the corresponding cobalt complexes the situation is more complicated. Spectroscopic oxidation states describing a d(6) (Co(III)) or d(7) (Co(II)) electron configuration cannot be unambiguously assigned.
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