In one of the more spectacular examples of recent photochromic research, Jiro Abe and Co., in a very recent Organic Letters ASAP (doi: 10.1021/ol801135g), have demonstrated the very rapid formation and disappearance of a “green shit colored chromophore” upon shining UV light into a tube filled with a hexaarylbiimidazole derivative (vide infra, bitch).

The reaction is rapid and, most interestingly, rapidly reversible, which means that the formation of the green colored product is short lived and the color disappears, most notably faster than the diffusion forces can dissipate the greenish cloud. While the technology isn’t quite new, I’d have to say this is actually published in the incorrect journal. This is potential JACS and/or Angew material, given the rate of reversal and the demonstrable theatrics. Org Lett is an interesting journal and I don’t wince at publishing there, but “greener” pastures should have been waiting for this little idea. For example, if you own a pair of transition lenses, perhaps “green shit color” isn’t quite the tint you’re going for, but you’d be happy to know that formation of that tinge would be instantaneous upon exposure to UV light and its disappearances just as instantaneous. That beats unwittingly walking into a stairwell without realizing it because your goddamn glasses are still tinted from being outside.

To be sure you are as amazed as me, here is a YouToube from a movie in the SI:

“Posted with permission from Org. Lett., ASAP Article, 10.1021/ol801135g, Web Release Date: June 19, 2008.
Copyright © 2008 American Chemical Society.”

Obviously pretty fucking wicked. The visual splendor may not be sufficient, but the paper goes to great lengths to explain and characterize this process and does so in excellent fashion.