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J Am Chem Soc. 2011 Aug 10;133(31):12085-99. doi: 10.1021/ja2026568. Epub 2011 Jul 20.

Systematic investigation of the metal-structure-photophysics relationship of emissive d10-complexes of group 11 elements: the prospect of application in organic light emitting devices.

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Department of Chemistry, National Tsing Hua University, Hsinchu 30013, Taiwan.


A series of new emissive group 11 transition metal d(10)-complexes 1-8 bearing functionalized 2-pyridyl pyrrolide together with phosphine ancillary such as bis[2-(diphenylphosphino)phenyl] ether (POP) or PPh(3) are reported. The titled complexes are categorized into three classes, i.e. Cu(I) complexes (1-3), Ag(I) complexes (4 and 5), and Au(I) metal complexes (6-8). Via combination of experimental and theoretical approaches, the group 11 d(10)-metal ions versus their structural variation, stability, and corresponding photophysical properties have been investigated in a systematic and comprehensive manner. The results conclude that, along the same family, how much a metal d-orbital is involved in the electronic transition plays a more important role than how heavy the metal atom is, i.e. the atomic number, in enhancing the spin-orbit coupling. The metal ions with and without involvement of a d orbital in the lowest lying electronic transition are thus classified into internal and external heavy atoms, respectively. Cu(I) complexes 1-3 show an appreciable metal d contribution (i.e., MLCT) in the lowest lying transition, so that Cu(I) acts as an internal heavy atom. Despite its smallest atomic number among group 11 elements, Cu(I) complexes 1-3 exhibit a substantially larger rate of intersystem crossing (ISC) and phosphorescence radiative decay rate constant (k(r)(p)) than those of Ag(I) (4 and 5) and Au(I) (6-8) complexes possessing pure π → π* character in the lowest transition. Since Ag(I) and Au(I) act only as external heavy atoms in the titled complexes, the spin-orbit coupling is mainly governed by the atomic number, such that complexes associated with the heavier Au(I) (6-8) show faster ISC and larger k(r)(p) than the Ag(I) complexes (4 and 5). This trend of correlation should be universal and has been firmly supported by experimental data in combination with empirical derivation. Along this line, Cu(I) complex 1 exhibits intensive phosphorescence (Φ(p) = 0.35 in solid state) and has been successfully utilized for fabrication of OLEDs, attaining peak EL efficiencies of 6.6%, 20.0 cd/A, and 14.9 lm/W for the forward directions.


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