Novel donor–acceptor dyads containing [2.2]- and [3.3]paracyclophane (PCP) as the bridging moiety were synthesized and used to effectively fabricate dye-sensitized hydrogen production systems. All the prepared compounds had a phenothiazine and a cyanoacrylic acid/pyridinyl acrylonitrile moiety acting as an electron donor and acceptor, respectively. Although cyclic voltammetry measurements showed similar electron-donating properties among all the synthesized dyads, the lowest absorption energy of the [2.2]PCP moiety was lower than that of the [3.3]PCP one; this was due to its shorter distance between benzene rings, which could effectively drive the charge transfer between the donor and acceptor chromophores. Under visible light (>395 nm), a dyad-loaded photocatalyst in a 0.5 M aqueous glycerol solution generated detectable hydrogen gases. The optimal turnover number and photocurrent order exhibited the same trend as the hydrogen production rate since the suggested number of excited photons played a critical role in hydrogen production.
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