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Dalton Trans. 2015 Feb 7;44(5):2176-90. doi: 10.1039/c4dt02384f.

Heteroleptic cationic iridium(III) complexes bearing naphthalimidyl substituents: synthesis, photophysics and reverse saturable absorption.

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Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, North Dakota State University, Fargo, North Dakota 58108-6050, USA.


Three heteroleptic cationic iridium(iii) complexes containing a cyclometalating 2-[3-(7-naphthalimidylfluoren-2'-yl)phenyl]pyridine ligand and different diimine (N^N) ligands (N^N = 2,2'-bipyridine (bpy, ), 1,10-phenanthroline (phen, ), and 5,5'-bis[7-(benzothiazol-2'-yl)fluoren-2'-yl]-2,2'-bipyridine (BTF-bpy, )) were synthesized and characterized. The photophysics of these complexes was systematically investigated via spectroscopic methods and by time-dependent density functional theory (TDDFT). All complexes possess a very weak charge-transfer tail at ca. 450-570 nm; and two intense absorption bands in the region of 290-350 nm and 350-450 nm, respectively. The emission of in CH2Cl2 emanates predominantly from the C^N ligand-localized (3)π,π* state. These emitting excited states also give rise to broadband triplet excited-state absorption in the visible to the near-IR region (i.e. 420-800 nm for and , and 460-800 nm for ). The kinetics of fs transient absorption (TA) reveals that the lowest singlet excited-state lifetimes of these complexes vary from 1.43 ps to 142 ps. The stronger excited-state absorption of compared to their respective ground-state absorption in the visible spectral range leads to strong reverse saturable absorption (RSA) at 532 nm for ns laser pulses. The trend of transmission signal decrease follows > > . Extending the π-conjugation of the N^N ligand increases the strength of RSA. In addition, the naphthalimidyl (NI) substitution at the cyclometalating ligand dramatically increases the triplet excited-state lifetimes and broadens the triplet excited-state absorption to the NIR region compared to the respective Ir(iii) complexes with a benzothiazolyl substituent on the cyclometalating ligand.


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