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Donor–Acceptor Star-Shaped Conjugated Macroelectrolytes: Synthesis, Light-Harvesting Properties, and Self-Assembly-Induced Förster Resonance Energy Transfer

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journal contribution
posted on 04.06.2015, 00:00 by Li Zhao, Cheng-Fang Liu, Wei-Dong Xu, Yi Jiang, Wen-Yong Lai, Wei Huang
A novel series of donor–acceptor star-shaped conjugated macroelectrolytes (CMEs), denoted as 4FTs, including anionic carboxylic acid sodium groups (4FNaT), neutral diethanolamine groups (4FNOHT), and cationic ammonium groups (4FNBrT), were designed, synthesized, and explored as an excellent platform to investigate the impact of various polar pendent groups on self-assembly behaviors. The resulting CMEs with donor–acceptor star-shaped architectures exhibited distinct light-harvesting properties. The interactions between 4FTs and TrNBr, a star-shaped monodisperse CME grafted with cationic quaternary ammonium side chains, were investigated in H2O and CH3OH using steady-state, time-resolved fluorescence, dynamic light scattering (DLS), and transmission electron microscopy (TEM). Highly favored energy transfer has been proven by the excellent spectral overlap between TrNBr fluorescence and 4FTs absorptions which can be tuned by adjusting the pendent polar groups and solvents. It is suggested that self-assembled structures are formed between TrNBr and 4FNaT, while there is no obvious change for TrNBr/4FNOHT and TrNBr/4FNBrT in both H2O and CH3OH at low concentrations (<10–6 M). This result is confirmed by the change of the TrNBr and 4FTs fluorescence properties and the time-resolved fluorescence data. The overall results manifest that at low concentrations the self-assembly between TrNBr and 4FTs is dominated by the electrostatic interactions. This study suggests that the functionalization of pendent polar groups of star-shaped CMEs has proven to be effective to modulate the self-assembly behaviors in dilute solutions and thus provide a strategy to further manage the optoelectronic properties.