An Example of How to Use AOT Reverse Micelle Interfaces to Control a Photoinduced Intramolecular Charge-Transfer Process

6-Propionyl-2-(N,N-dimethyl)aminonaphtahalene, PRODAN, is widely used as a fluorescent molecular probe due to its significant Stokes shift in polar solvents. It is an aromatic compound with intramolecular charge-transfer (ICT) states which can be particularly useful as sensors. In this work, we performed absorption, steady-state, time-resolved fluorescence (TRES), and time-resolved area normalized emission (TRANES) spectroscopies on PRODAN dissolved in nonaqueous reverse micelles. The reverse micelles are composed of polar solvents/sodium 1,4-bis-2-ethylhexylsulfosuccinate (AOT)/n-heptane. Sequestered polar solvents included ethylene glycol (EG), propylene glycol (PG), glycerol (GY), formamide (FA), dimethylformamide (DMF), and dimethylacetamide (DMA). The experiments were performed with varying surfactant concentrations at a fixed molar ratio WS = [polar solvent]/[AOT]. In every reverse micelle studied, the results show that PRODAN undergoes a partition process between the external solvent and the reverse micelle interface. The partition constants, Kp, are quantified from the changes in the PRODAN emission and/or absorption spectra with the surfactant concentration. The Kp values depend strongly on the encapsulated polar solvent and correlate quite well with the AOT reverse micelle interface's zones where PRODAN can exist and emits. Thus, the partition toward the reverse micelle interface is strongly favored in DMF and DMA containing micelles where the PRODAN emission comes only from an ICT state. For GY/AOT reverse micelles, the Kp value is the lowest and only emission from the local excited (LE) state is observed. On the other hand, for EG/AOT, PG/AOT, and water/AOT reverse micelles, the Kp values are practically the same and emission from both states (LE and ICT) is simultaneously detected. We show here that it is possible to control the PRODAN state emission by simply changing the properties of the AOT reverse micelle interfaces by choosing the appropriate polar solvent to make the reverse micelle media. Indeed, we present experimental evidence with the answer to the long time question about from which state does PRODAN emit, a process that can be controlled using the unique reverse micelle interfaces properties.