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Biophys J. 1997 Oct;73(4):2221-34.

Laurdan solvatochromism: solvent dielectric relaxation and intramolecular excited-state reaction.

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Equipe Physicochimie des systèmes polyphasés, URA CNRS 1218, Université Paris XI, Châtenay Malabry, France.


Absorption, steady-state, and time-resolved fluorescence measurements have been performed on laurdan dissolved either in white viscous apolar solvents or in ethanol as a function of temperature. The heterogeneity of the absorption spectra in white oils or in ethanol is consistent with semiempirical calculations performed previously on Prodan. From steady-state and time-resolved fluorescence measurements in apolar media, an excited state reaction is evidenced. The bimodal lifetime distribution determined from the maximum entropy method (MEM) analysis is attributed to the radiative deexcitation of a "locally excited" (LE) state and of a "charge transfer" (CT) state, whereas a very short component (20 ps), the sign and the amplitude of which depend on the emission wavelength, is attributed to the kinetics of the interconvertion reaction. The observation of an isoemissive point in the temperature range from -50 degrees C to -110 degrees C in ethanol suggests an interconvertion between two average excited-state populations: unrelaxed and solvent-relaxed CT states. A further decrease in temperature (-190 degrees C), leading to frozen ethanol, induces an additional and important blue shift. This low temperature spectrum is partly attributed to the radiative deexcitation of the LE state. Time-resolved emission spectra (TRES) measurements at -80 degrees C in the ethanol liquid phase show a large spectral shift of approximately 2500 cm(-1) (stabilization energy of the excited state: 7.1 kcal x M(-1)). The time-dependent fluorescence shift (TDFS) is described for its major part by a nanosecond time constant. The initial part of the spectral shift reveals, however, a subnanosecond process that can be due to fast internal solvent reorientation and/or to intramolecular excited-state reactions. These two relaxation times are also detected in the analysis of the fluorescence decays in the middle range of emission energy. The activation energy of the longest process is approximately 3 kcal x M(-1). At -190 degrees C, one subnanosecond and one nanosecond excited-state reactions are also evidenced. They are likely due to intramolecular rearrangements after the excitation, leading to the CT state and not to solvent relaxation, which is severely hindered in these temperature conditions. Therefore, both intramolecular and solvent relaxations are responsible for the large Stokes shift displayed by this probe as a function of solvent polarity. A possible scheme is proposed for the deexcitation pathway, taking into account the kinetics observed in these different solvents.

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