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Color-Tunable and ESIPT-Inspired Solid Fluorophores Based on Benzothiazole Derivatives: Aggregation-Induced Emission, Strong Solvatochromic Effect, and White Light Emission

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posted on 20.11.2020, 16:05 by Yahui Chen, Yu Fang, Hao Gu, Jian Qiang, Haidong Li, Jiangli Fan, Jianfang Cao, Fang Wang, Sheng Lu, Xiaoqiang Chen
Organic solid materials with color-tunable emissions have been extensively applied in various fields. However, a rational design and facile synthesis of an ideal fluorophore are still challenging due to the undesirable aggregation-caused quenching effect in concentrated solution and solid form. Herein, we have developed a series of 2-(2′-hydroxyphenyl)­benzothiazole (HBT)-derived color-tunable solid emitters by switching functional groups at the ortho-position of a hydroxyl group via formylation and an aldol condensation reaction. By tuning the electron-withdrawing ability and the π-conjugated framework introduced by the functional groups, fluorophores emit light covering the full-color range from blue to near-infrared regions with high quantum yields in their solid form and show a significant solvatochromic effect in polar solvents. The aggregation-induced emission (AIE) or aggregation-induced emission enhancement (AIEE) and excited-state intramolecular proton transfer (ESIPT) involving fluorescence mechanism, along with their inter/intramolecular interactions in crystals, are elucidated to depict the key factors for tunable emissions and high emitting efficiency. Furthermore, high-quality white-light-emitting materials are obtained in various solvents and polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) films with combined fluorophores. Overall, these studies report a promising strategy for the construction of organic solid materials with color-tunable emission and shed light on methods for obtaining desirable emission efficiency.