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Counterion Migration Driven by Light-Induced Intramolecular Charge Transfer

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posted on 25.01.2021, 14:48 by Ta-Chun Lin, Zong-Ying Liu, Shih-Hung Liu, Igor O. Koshevoy, Pi-Tai Chou
A series of D−π–A+ pyridinium compounds, in which D = −NPh2 and A+ = −PyMe+ are linked by various amounts of linear phenyl spacers, were strategically designed and synthesized. Their characterization revealed the presence of excited-state intramolecular charge transfer (ESICT) that triggers a corresponding response from the counterion. In medium and strong polar solvents, the fast solvent relaxation occurring after ESICT overwhelms the counterion effect, showing typical emission solvatochromism. In weakly polar solvents, ESICT induces counteranion migration for electrostatic stabilization, the time scale of which is dependent on the radius of the counteranion, the length of the π-linker, and the viscosity of the solvent. In low-viscosity organic solvents such as toluene, counteranion migration occurs within several tens to hundreds of picoseconds, resulting in a time-dependent continuous emission that can be resolved from the spectral temporal evolution. Concrete evidence for this is provided by the chemical synthesis of a D−π–A+ pyridinium–sulfur trioxide zwitterion, where anion migration is restricted due to its internally locked ion pair. As a result, only a single emission band can be observed. These comprehensive studies prove that the ion migration process may be significant for a wide range of ESICT-type ionic fluorophores. Such an ionic movement, triggered by optically pumped ESICT of the D−π–A+ dyad, is similar to the molecular machine driven by the redox reaction, but with a facile access and fast response.