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J Am Chem Soc. 2002 Jul 24;124(29):8530-1.

Excited-state symmetry breaking in cofacial and linear dimers of a green perylenediimide chlorophyll analogue leading to ultrafast charge separation.

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Department of Chemistry and Center for Nanofabrication and Molecular Self-Assembly, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois 60208-3113, USA.


Photoexcitation of chromophoric dimers constrained to a symmetric pi-stacked geometry by their molecular structure usually produces excimers independent of solvent polarity, while dimers with edge-to-edge perpendicular pi systems undergo excited-state symmetry breaking in highly polar solvents leading to intradimer charge separation. We present direct evidence for symmetry breaking in the lowest excited singlet state of a symmetric cofacial dimer of 1,7-bis(pyrrolidin-1'-yl)-perylene-3,4:9,10-bis(dicarboximide) (5PDI) in the low polarity solvent toluene to produce a radical ion pair quantitatively. This dimer, cof-5PDI2, was synthesized by attaching two 5PDI chromophores via imide groups to a xanthene spacer. For comparison, a linear symmetric dimer, lin-5PDI2, was prepared in which the 5PDI chromophores are linked end-to-end via a N-N single bond between their imides. The edge-to-edge pi systems of the 5PDI chromophores within lin-5PDI2 are perpendicular to one another. Ground-state absorption spectra of both 5PDI dimers show exciton coupling, which is consistent with the orientation of the 5PDI chromophores relative to one another. Ultrafast transient absorption spectroscopy following excitation of the dimers with 700 nm, 100 fs laser pulses shows that quantitative intradimer electron transfer occurs in cof-5PDI2 in toluene with tau = 0.17 ps followed by charge recombination to the ground state with tau = 222 ps. Similar measurements on lin-5PDI2 reveal that photoinduced electron transfer does not occur in toluene, but occurs in more polar solvents such as 2-methyltetrahydrofuran, wherein tau = 55 ps for charge separation and tau = 99 ps for charge recombination. Excited-state symmetry breaking in 5PDI dimers provides new routes to biomimetic charge separation and storage assemblies that can be more easily prepared and modified than those based on multiple tetrapyrrole macrocycles.

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