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Acc Chem Res. 2009 Sep 15;42(9):1364-74. doi: 10.1021/ar800282e.

Two-dimensional electronic spectroscopy of molecular excitons.

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  • 1Department of Physical Chemistry, University of Vienna, 1090 Vienna, Austria.


Understanding of the nuclear and electronic structure and dynamics of molecular systems has advanced considerably through probing the nonlinear response of molecules to sequences of pulsed electromagnetic fields. The ability to control various degrees of freedom of the excitation pulses-such as duration, sequence, frequency, polarization, and shape-has led to a variety of time-resolved spectroscopic methods. The various techniques that researchers use are commonly classified by their dimensionality, which refers to the number of independently variable time delays between the pulsed fields that induce the signal. Though pico- and femtosecond time-resolved spectroscopies of electronic transitions have come of age, only recently have researchers been able to perform two-dimensional electronic spectroscopy (2D-ES) in the visible frequency regime and correlate transition frequencies that evolve in different time intervals. The two-dimensional correlation plots and their temporal evolution allow one to access spectral information that is not exposed directly in other one-dimensional nonlinear methods. In this Account, we summarize our studies of a series of increasingly complex molecular chromophores. We examine noninteracting dye molecules, a monomer-dimer equilibrium of a prototypical dye molecule, and finally a supramolecular assembly of electronically coupled absorbers. By tracing vibronic signal modulations, differentiating line-broadening mechanisms, analyzing distinctly different relaxation dynamics, determining electronic coupling strengths, and directly following excitation energy transfer pathways, we illustrate how two-dimensional electronic spectroscopy can image physical phenomena that underlie the optical response of a particular system. Although 2D-ES is far from being a "turn-key" method, we expect that experimental progress and potential commercialization of instrumentation will make 2D-ES accessible to a much broader scientific audience, analogous to the development of multidimensional NMR and 2D-IR.

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