Iodonium salts are well established photoacid generators, cationic photoinitiators, as well as additives commonly used in photoredox catalytic cycles. However, as a strong limitation, iodonium salts are characterized by low light absorption properties for λ > 300 nm so that these latter cannot be activated with cheap, safe, and eco-friendly near UV or even visible light emitting diodes (LEDs). To overcome this drawback, the covalent linkage of an iodonium salt to a chromophore absorbing at longer wavelength is actively researched. With aim at red-shifting the absorption spectrum of the iodonium salt, the synthesis of new compounds combining within a unique chemical structure both the chromophore (here the naphthalimide scaffold) and the iodonium salt is presented. By mean of this strategy, a polymerization could be initiated at 365 nm with the modified iodonium salts whereas no polymerization could be induced with the benchmark iodonium salt i.e., Speedcure 938 at this specific wavelength. To examine the effect of the counter-anion on the photoinitiating ability of these different salts, five different counter-anions were used. Comparison between the different anions revealed the bis
(trifluoromethane)sulfonimide salt to exhibit the best photoinitiating ability in both the free radical polymerization of acrylates and the cationic polymerization of epoxides. To support the experimental results, molecular orbital calculations have been carried out. By theoretical calculations, the initiating species resulting from the photocleavage of the iodonium salts could be determined. The cleavage selectivity and the photochemical reactivity of the new iodoniums are also discussed.
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