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Chemistry. 2007;13(30):8411-27.

Syntheses and energy transfer in multiporphyrinic arrays self-assembled with hydrogen-bonding recognition groups and comparison with covalent steroidal models.

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Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Forschungszentrum Karlsruhe, Institute for Nanotechnology, Postfach 3640, 76021 Karlsruhe, Germany.


A number of new porphyrins equipped with complementary triple hydrogen-bonding groups were synthesized in good yields. Self-assembly was investigated by NMR spectroscopy, dynamic light scattering (DLS), and atomic force microscopy (AFM). These artificial antenna systems were further characterized by stationary and time-resolved fluorescence techniques to investigate several yet unsolved questions on the mechanism of excitation energy transfer (EET) in supramolecular systems. For example, the photophysics of a simple D--U[triple chemical bond]P--A dyad was studied, in which donor D and acceptor A are ZnII- metalated and free-base porphyrins, respectively, and U (uracyl) and P (2,6-diacetamidopyridyl) are complementary hydrogen-bonding groups linked by flexible spacers. In this dyad, the EET occurs with about 20 % efficiency with a lifetime of 14 ps. Reversal of the nonsymmetric triple hydrogen-bonding groups to give a A--U[triple chemical bond]P--D construct results in an EET efficiency of about 25 % and a lifetime of 19 ps. Thus, there is a slight directionality of EET mediated by these asymmetric triple hydrogen-bonding units tethered to flexible spacers. In polymeric systems of the type P-D-P[triple chemical bond]U-A-U[triple chemical bond]P-D-P, or U-D-U[triple chemical bond]P-A-P[triple chemical bond]U-D-U, the EET efficiency doubles as each donor is flanked by two acceptors. Because doubling the probability of photon capture doubles the EET efficiency, there is no energy amplification, which is consistent with the "antenna effect". For these polymeric systems, AFM images and DLS data indicate large rodlike assemblies of a few hundred nanometers, whereas the components form much smaller aggregates under the same conditions. To understand the importance of the flexible hydrogen-bonding zipper, three different covalently bridged D-B-A molecules were synthesized in which the bridge B is a rigid steroidal system and the same ester chemistry was used to link the porphyrins to each end of the steroid. The geometry inferred from molecular modeling of D-B-A indicates geometric similarities between B and some conformations of the --P[triple chemical bond]U-- supramolecular bridge. Although the EET efficiency is a factor of two greater for the steroidal systems relative to the supramolecular dyads, the rate is 50-80 times slower, but still slightly faster than that predicted by Förster-type mechanisms. Circular dichrosim (CD) spectra provide a conformational sampling of the porphyrin groups appended on the steroidal skeleton, thus allowing an estimation of the orientation factor kappa for the transition dipole moments, which significantly affects the EET rate. We conclude that the flexible hydrogen-bonded linked systems are adaptive and have variable geometries with foldamers in which the D and A groups can approach well under 1 nm. In these folded conformations, a rapid EET process occurs, probably also involving a Dexter-type exchange mechanism, thus explaining the fast EET relative to the rigid steroidal compounds. This study predicts that it is indeed possible to build large supramolecular antennas and the component design and supramolecular dynamics are essential features that dictate EET rates and efficiencies.

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