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Journal Article

Excited-State Decay Paths in Tetraphenylethene Derivatives


Thiel,  Walter
Research Department Thiel, Max-Planck-Institut für Kohlenforschung, Max Planck Society;

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Gao, Y.-J., Chang, X.-P., Liu, X.-Y., Li, Q.-S., Cui, G., & Thiel, W. (2017). Excited-State Decay Paths in Tetraphenylethene Derivatives. The Journal of Physical Chemistry A, 121(13), 2572-2579. doi:10.1021/acs.jpca.7b00197.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-002D-175A-8
The photophysical properties of tetraphenylethene (TPE) compounds may differ widely depending on the substitution pattern, for example, with regard to the fluorescence quantum yield ϕf and the propensity to exhibit aggregation-induced emission (AIE). We report combined electronic structure calculations and nonadiabatic dynamics simulations to study the excited-state decay mechanisms of two TPE derivatives with four methyl substituents, either in the meta position (TPE-4mM, ϕf = 0.1%) or in the ortho position (TPE-4oM, ϕf = 64.3%). In both cases, two excited-state decay pathways may be relevant, namely, photoisomerization around the central ethylenic double bond and photocyclization involving two adjacent phenyl rings. In TPE-4mM, the barrierless S1 cyclization is favored; it is responsible for the ultralow fluorescence quantum yield observed experimentally. In TPE-4oM, both the S1 photocyclization and photoisomerization paths are blocked by non-negligible barriers, and fluorescence is thus feasible. Nonadiabatic dynamics simulations with more than 1000 surface hopping trajectories show ultrafast cyclization upon photoexcitation of TPE-4mM, whereas TPE-4oM remains unreactive during the 1 ps simulations. We discuss the chances for spectroscopic detection of the postulated cyclic photoproduct of TPE-4mM and the relevance of our findings for the AIE process.