Folding and fluorescence enhancement with strong odd-even effect for a series of merocyanine dye oligomers

Xiaobo Hu, Alexander Schulz, Joachim O. Lindner, Matthias Grüne, David Bialas, Frank Würthner

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A series of merocyanine (MC) oligomers with a varying number of chromophores from two to six has been synthesizedviaa peptide synthesis strategy. Solvent-dependent UV/vis spectroscopic studies reveal folding processes for the MC oligomers driven by strong dipole-dipole interactions resulting in well-defined π-stacks with antiparallel orientation of the dyes. Whilst even-numbered tetramer4and hexamer6only show partial folding into dimeric units, odd-numbered trimer3and pentamer5fold into π-stacks of three and five MC units upon decreasing solvent polarity. In-depth 2D NMR studies provided insight into the supramolecular structure. For trimer3, an NMR structure could be generated revealing the presence of a well-defined triple π-stack in the folded state. Concomitant with folding, the fluorescence quantum yield is increased for all MC oligomers in comparison to the single chromophore. Based on radiative and non-radiative decay rates, this fluorescence enhancement can be attributed to the rigidification of the chromophores within the π-stacks that affords a pronounced decrease of the non-radiative decay rates. Theoretical investigations for the double and triple dye stacks based on time-dependent density functional theory (TD-DFT) calculations indicate for trimer3a pronounced mixing of Frenkel and charge transfer (CT) states. This leads to significant deviations from the predictions obtained by the molecular exciton theory which only accounts for the Coulomb interaction between the transition dipole moments of the chromophores.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8342-8352
Number of pages11
JournalChemical Science
Issue number24
StatePublished - Jun 28 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemistry

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